Editorial — The Glacier discussions: A remarkable turn of events

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, protesters were locking their arms and barricading roads to try to block Glacier Northwest from proceeding on its controversial plans to build an industrial-sized pier off the eastern edge of Maury Island.

Now, it turns out, there’s a chance government agencies might soon own the corporation’s 236-acre site.

For the past several months, negotiations have been quietly under way between the Cascade Land Conservancy and the corporate owners of the Maury Island site — with a consortium of public officials and other conservation activists privately supporting and encouraging the effort.

CLC, a veteran of tough negotiations and complex deals, has been at the table for some time with the corporation. In a statement issued to The Beachcomber Tuesday morning, the conservation group said that it’s “exploring ways to structure a transaction that meets the requirements of both Northwest Aggregates (another corporate name for Glacier) and the public.” The two sides, CLC said, “are working to resolve several complex issues” associated with the potential deal — including a purchase price.

There’s still a long road ahead. Complex deals such as this one can fall apart in the 11th hour. But what’s particularly noteworthy in all of this is that Glacier is at the table.

It obviously takes both a willing buyer and a willing seller to bring a deal like this to fruition. Glacier’s corporate parent — hurt by the economic downturn and by a critical judicial defeat when a federal judge ordered it last summer to go through a more rigorous environmental review process — is apparently willing.

It’s too early to lead a parade down Main Street. But it’s not too early to note — with deep and profound appreciation — the hard work that state Rep. Sharon Nelson, citizen activist Amy Carey and several others have put into this campaign.

Not long ago, it seemed as though Glacier’s expansion plans were a fait accompli. Now, it appears that its site might go into public ownership — a remarkable turn of events.

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