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Letter to the Editor: Let's rally for Mukai Farm's preservation (May 19, 2010)
I read The Beachcomber article, “Historic farmhouse gets placed on real estate market” (May 5) with a heavy heart. I was a member of the original board of Island Landmarks in the ’90s.
The Mukai farm and garden property was bought with the intent that the gardens be restored and that it operate as an interpretive center for regional history and the study of Japanese immigration to the Puget Sound region. A lot of public funding (federal, state and county) and private donations were garnered, but virtually no restoration or public access has occurred.
After the Nov. 2, 2009, public meeting, and specific interest shown by the Puget Sound Zen Center, I had high hopes. It would have been something of a nonprofit transfer, with some maintenance expenses and back taxes to be negotiated. (The barreling plant, in private ownership, would sell separately.) Now it appears that, once again, Vashon as a community, and its present and future residents, will lose a piece of history and a wonderful opportunity. It may be legal for Island Landmarks to sell the farm combined with the barreling plant, for a sizeable asking price, but I totally agree with Holly Taylor that it seems inappropriate. Furthermore, I no longer have confidence that the requirements of such a deal — that the proceeds of sale further the mission to restore the garden and preserve the property — will be adhered to. A decade of experience dictates otherwise.
The fight to save Maury Island’s nearshore environment from gravel barges took extraordinary, patient, work by key players, but also strong support from the community.
Now I urge Islanders to rally for the preservation of the Mukai property, with public access, and demand that any sale or transfer come with legally binding restrictions that put all proceeds into a “lockbox” trust fund, usable only for restoration and preservation.
— Ellen Kritzman