Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: July 29

Tourism on the Island

Let’s not cater to tourists

Please! Let’s keep Vashon weird!

We chose not to live in Sausalito, Gig Harbor, Friday Harbor or Bainbridge Island. We have lived on Vashon since 1988, and we never want to live anywhere else.

We do not want to live in a tourists’ haven, where commerce caters to the transient whims of the visitor: “Just follow the signs to gratification.” “Buy one package and the 10th is free!” Bring the carloads; cram the streets, drop your trash, and line up at the ferry early, so you can get off the Island at a decent hour.

What would we be getting, if we gear ourselves to tourists? Think more carefully, please.

— Mary Lou Harlander

Marketing isn’t enough

We are delighted to read the Vashon Chamber of Commerce is exploring in a meaningful way the issue of tourism and the Vashon economy. As former small business owners, we have thought a great deal about this issue. To us, the best-case scenario would be that residents could enjoy a diversity and quality of businesses that couldn’t be supported by residents alone. And us lucky residents could enjoy the pleasures of sharing our beautiful Island.

Obviously none of us wants to be overrun by tourists and have businesses that cater only to tourists, but we are a long way from that. But what concerns us about what we read is the assumption that this can be solved with a public relations solution. As we see it, the real issue is one of infrastructure. We feel the only way meaningful change will occur is when we make the Island experience for visitors attractive.

In addition to marketing, we would love to see efforts to have a passenger ferry from downtown that serves the tourists staying in downtown Seattle. Many Seattle tourists looking for a way to take a boat excursion from downtown ride the ferry to Bainbridge — why not try to get some to come to Vashon?

And while there are many delightful B&Bs on the Island, there is a significant group of tourists who prefer a different experience in accommodations: a small inn or hotel.

We feel if the community supported the building of a couple unique and state-of-the-art inns on the Island we would see an enormous addition to the economy. They would need to have either access to the water or to a farm setting. They would need to be more than just rooms in a house, or a small rental cottage, but a sophisticated business. And of course it should be a state-of-the-art green venture.

We are sure there are many more ideas, but what we are clear about is that just a marketing campaign is not going to significantly change tourism on the Island. We need to work to create the infrastructure for a marketing campaign to work. We feel if done right it could transform the Island in a positive way for all.

— Roy McMakin and Mike Jacobs

Senior center

It’s an exciting place

Recently the Vashon Senior Center began a new campaign to increase awareness of the activities, events and services we offer on the Island. Our specific focus is on the “attitude” of the center and its members. Senior centers are often perceived to be places where older adults sit quietly, playing cards or knitting — not very exciting places. Well, anyone who’s been to the Vashon Senior Center lately knows differently.

Our center is very much a lively, vibrant place. There are fun activities, stimulating events, great low-cost lunches and a strong sense of community. Our members are active and involved, and they see aging differently, which is our new theme. If you’ve seen any of our new ads, you’ll notice they feature photos of members with their special glasses on during our recent 3-D movie event, as well as news of our world-class volunteers. 

We hope this helps show our community that the Vashon Senior Center is an active, fun place. We also hope that Islanders will join us and bring a friend or family member (all our events are open to everyone). Perhaps after a visit you’ll see aging differently as well.

—Willow Eaton, Vashon Senior Center director

Cage fights

Cages are for animals

There is a reason they call it “cage” fighting. It is how you contain animals. Personally I wish this zoo would move off-Island.

— Michael FitzPatrick

Honoring an Islander

Hodgson is a gem

Jennie Hodgson was one of the best school board members in recent Vashon Island history.

I had the pleasure to work with her for more than six years on the board. She was gracious and thoughtful. She was passionate and fought for what she believed was right for students. She was a bridge builder who succeeded because she respected the opinion of others. Her graceful way of building coalitions almost always won the day. She was simply a delight to work with, and the board was recognized as “School Board of the Year” for Washington State during her tenure. That award was in part due to her magnificent contribution of time, thought and decision-making during the two terms she served. For me personally, I am enriched because of her presence.

— Charlie Staadecker

Community council

New members could broaden council’s scope

Interest in the scope of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s deliberations got a boost this week as new board members have pitched in to fill vacancies. The matter of scope would seem to be of particular interest at this time of war, recession and too much carbon dioxide because it turns on our judgment of what constitutes “local interest.”

Take war. While few of us have lost a loved one, are the rest of us OK with the senseless mayhem? How about the recession? Do we watch idly as Detroit’s skilled labor gets shoved into the gutter? And climate. Should our commuters not be among the first to back a long-range plan to bring work nearer to homes, to make Vashon a resilient haven?

Leading questions to be sure, but if the community council keeps to a narrow interpretation of “local interest,” then Vashon will not be prepared for the inevitable ramifications of national change. An important aspect of preparation for such profound stress is emotional health.

Heads up, Vashon. Times are about to change.

— Tom Herring, community council board member

Health care

Nationalized health care may not be right

If you like dependency on “big” government; if you like the flawed health care and the extreme cost of Medicare, Medicaid and the veterans’ administration health care systems; if you like long lines waiting to get health care; if you like rationing of health care for you and your family; if you like having some faceless, nameless bureaucrat between you and your doctor dictating what you qualify for in terms of your health care coverage and the costs; if you actually believe there are 48 million people out of some 330 million without health insurance because they can’t afford it when the actual number is 12 million and that it’s worth trashing the entire existing system to accommodate this relatively small group — then the bottom line is: you’re gonna love “nationalized” government-run health care, i.e. “socialized medicine.”

If you don’t want to see your loved ones languishing while waiting for their turn in line or being told they simply don’t qualify for this or that medical service or procedure; if you don’t like the prospect of being pushed out of your existing health insurance and forced over to some nationalized “single payer” government-run insurance program; if you like the freedom to make your own choices regarding health care; if you don’t want to see your health care costs and taxes go way up; if you like the free market, free enterprise solutions to the health care problems, such as portability of insurance and medical savings accounts — then “nationalized” health care is probably not for you.

And if this nationalized health care passes and the costs go way up, as they will, who do we send the bill to for the difference between what we are paying now and what it will cost then?

For a fair and balanced analysis of this issue, please check out heritage.org or CPRights.org.

— Douglas E. Larsen


A historical book gives insight on property

Regarding the disputed Glacier/CalPortland land on the eastern shore of Maury Island, Van Olinda, in his classic “History of Vashon-Maury Island,” said:

“The Pembroke Investment Co. had for some years owned a tract of land in the southwest quarter of Section 29, on Maury, and had done some work in opening gravel pits there. In 1922, with numerous building projects going forward in all parts of the country, the demand for gravel induced the Pembroke Company to install additional machinery, and, for several years following, their bunkers were very busy loading six or more barges a day, until the Depression of ’29 struck the world. ... One has only to look at the enormous gashes in the hillside at Pembroke to realize the extent of operations carried on there at one time.”

I propose that, as a community, we continue to pursue purchase of the land from Glacier/CalPortland, and, in a nod to its industrial history, name it Pembroke Park.

— Kathy Flynn

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