By David Anderson
The numbers more than add up. And that’s the problem.
One of many contingencies affecting the issuance of a right-of-way (ROW) permit by the City of Lakewood to Camp Murray for the latter to relocate its controversial main entry gate was evidence from the Washington Military Department (WMD) that there would be a significant reduction in military and employee traffic commuting through the adjoining neighborhood of Tillicum.
However, a recent development indicates very possibly the opposite has occurred.
In his letter dated September 2, 2010, Keith Kosik, State Public Affairs Officer for the Washington National Guard wrote, “Within two years all of our military tactical vehicles and accompanying maintenance personnel will be moved off of Camp Murray to a location on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This move will take a significant number of vehicles and commuters away from Camp Murray.”
Kosik was responding to the City’s demand that Camp Murray crunch the numbers.
“As a condition of the right-of-way permit and prior to the relocated gate being operational (which latter event took place at the stroke of midnight, March 8, 2013), WMD shall provide details for said personnel relocation to the City for its review.”
How many, according to Kosik, is “a significant number”?
According to the Remanded Right-of-Way Permit (ROW 11192), dated April 6, 2012 and signed by Don Wickstrom, Public Works Director and David Bugher, Assistant City Manager for Development/Community Development Director, the Combined Support Maintenance Shop project broke ground in September, 2011 with the goal of relocating 50 WMD employees.
But that was then and this is now.
Now, in a Tacoma News Tribune article of October 11, 2013 the WMD plans on becoming the home to what they call the National Guard readiness center bringing a number of full-time employees to Camp Murray.
“Forty,” said state Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren.
Plus, she added, “another 339 citizen soldiers will use it for weekend training events.”
Where are they going to put them?
The Readiness Center “is to be built on a site at Camp Murray recently vacated by the National Guard when it moved a vehicle maintenance shop across Interstate 5 to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”
Doing what is clearly fuzzy math: subtract 50, add 40, and throw in another three-hundred and the grand total amounts to a “significant reduction”?
And how do they get there?
Chances are through here, ‘here’ being Tillicum.
Given the common complaint – the impact on the community of cut-through Camp Murray traffic – found in hundreds of pages of documents, registered by scores of Tillicum residents who were out-of-pocket tens-of-thousands of dollars ($20,000 for round numbers) battling their elected representatives, Lakewood City Staff, and the WMD in court over this gate relocate, what is to be deduced from the promises made then that ring most hollow now?
If 50 minus 40 times (on occasion) 30 equals what all parties in court (late July, 2012) were told (which they weren’t) could be counted on as the answer to the traffic-numbers-reductions-game, then this kind of math explains the mess dividing even further – not only geographically but grievously – the residents of Tillicum from Lakewood to the north and Camp Murray to the south both of which are but one-exit removed from the tiny community squeezed in the middle.
According to a recent email from a spokesperson for the Lakewood Public Works department, “Berkeley Street (where half of Murray traffic is supposed to go if they want to get out of Tillicum southbound) is somewhat improved from very, very bad to just very bad – and North Thorne Lane (where the other half goes) has gone from fair to bad.”
And that’s counting the 50 who went over the bridge but not the 40-plus soon to take their place.
All of this then begs the question, actually lots and lots of questions, where “begging the question” references “statements assumed to be true without evidence.”
Along the lines of the most questionable math computations above are now similar very- much-in-doubt problems raised below that concern conditions placed upon the military in order to receive their right-of-way permit to relocate their main entry gate.
These are rights-of-way stipulations – the devil-in-the-details for which – a community has now even more a right to know.
In that same September 2, 2010 letter Kosik wrote, “We are considering 4 day work weeks (4/10 work schedule) to help curb the volume of traffic, and incentives for carpools and vanpools. We also plan to continually reevaluate and listen to the concerns of our neighbors in order to mitigate concerns as we move forward.”
Carpool and vanpool ‘considerations’ by the WMD however were in fact non-negotiable conditions placed upon the WMD by the City.
“The Camp Murray work site is subject to the state Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) law. The City is requiring that WMD develop and implement an enhanced CTR program which considers not merely employees, but the totality of its operations occurring at the installation including indirect employees such as reservists of National Guard members who may be reporting to the site. The enhanced program is intended to reduce the drive-alone rates among all those working upon Camp Murray, this minimizing traffic upon City rights-of-way” (ROW 11192, p.7).
Three years have now elapsed. The four-day work week, did that happen? Carpools and vanpools – how many vehicles are seen coming and going along the new gate ingress and egress routes for Camp Murray that are singly occupied? What evidence is there of “continual re-evaluation and mitigation of concerns?”
When Wickstrom and Bugher issued the ROW for Camp Murray, they purposed – and promised – “to manage traffic originating from Camp Murray (and) also to address the cut-through traffic generated by JBLM and Madigan Hospital” (p.4).
How has this been – and is this in fact being – managed, measured and addressed?
The above referenced document additionally stipulates the following mitigation which, 20 months following the issuance of Camp Murray’s permit, has not been completed:
“Construction of an eight (8) foot wide ‘hot mix’ asphalt surface along North Thorne Lane SW from approximately Union Ave. SW to Spruce St. will increase pedestrian mobility, improve safety, and connect residential areas whose walkability is hampered. The existing North Thorne Lake SW right-of-way has a small shoulder with limited pedestrian walking area. Residents in Tillicum and Woodbrook use the roadway to walk to and from Harry Todd Park. The relocation of the gate may increase ADT by an additional 1,000 trips so there is a need to create a greater separation between vehicles and pedestrians.”
Camp Murray got a “pedestrian-friendly campus” out of the deal. To date the walkability of North Thorne Lane is not done.
A further condition of the right-of-way permit was that “WMD shall continue its efforts to implement additional access restrictions at the southerly access to Camp Murray adjacent to JBLM North” (p.7).
What specifically has been accomplished to that end?
In light of all the above, and in the interest of transparency and all that’s good – or is supposed to be – with regards representative democracy, and given this ongoing trans-poor-tation nightmare, what can the City provide the suspension-of-disbelieve disbelieving public in the way of evidence that it has reviewed and has satisfied these conditions?
The numbers – the accurate ones – please?
And please do not refer us to the Public Disclosure process.
As public has been the offense – a contorted and convoluted court battle – so public should be the response.