The Chetzemoka reconsidered | Editorial

David Moseley, in his letter to The Beachcomber, makes some good points about the newspaper’s recent coverage of the upset over the Chetzemoka.

The Rhododendron and the Chetzemoka are two very different ferries. And while the Chetzemoka may seem over-built for the short run between Tahlequah and Point Defiance, it provides other assets to the broader ferry system that the single-hulled Rhody couldn’t.

But we’re troubled by one element in his letter. As is so often the case in the world of civic debate, he’s shooting the messenger.

The Beachcomber’s news story quoted lawmakers and commuters, crew members and the state auditor’s office, all of whom — in one fashion or another — raised questions that have been circulating on Vashon for months. Did WSF invest well when it built the Chetzemoka and its sister ships? Why did Vashon get saddled with this ungainly, oversized ferry? And isn’t it a little crazy, in this time of severe financial shortfalls, to equip the run with a boat that burns twice as much fuel as the 55-year-old boat it replaced?

The state ferry system had to work fast to replace the state’s four Steel Electrics, a class that had served the Port Townsend run, after the state discovered cracks and corrosion in their hulls. But the fact is, many in the Puget Sound region are unhappy with the result.

Moseley is a smart administrator who’s made a name for himself as someone who knows how to listen. He’ll visit Vashon on Nov. 7, one of his regular meetings with ferry-dependent constituents. We trust and hope he’ll be able to engage Islanders, hear their concerns and respond substantively to ongoing questions about the cost and performance of the Chetzemoka.


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