Proposed road closure in Frederickson ignites controversy

by Josh Magill

Over the last few months, a proposal to close a portion of 180th Street East in Frederickson has quietly moved its way through the Pierce County processes.  However, as stated by county engineer Brian Stacey at the March 26th Economic and Infrastructure Development Meeting, there was no notification sent prior to a decision being made – not to surrounding residents or community organizations like Frederickson’s Clover Creek Community Council (F-CCCC).

 Nothing was announced.  Apparently the plan was to allow the proposal to squeak by until a decision was made, then let the County quietly post a sign with small letters that most people won’t stop to read.

 Pitiful, huh?  But it is the way out government works, and quite frankly we let it happen on a daily basis.

 I understand we, the residents, are busy and do not have the time to attend each County meeting or hearing, which is why we elect public officials like Pierce County Councilman Jim McCune (District 3).  You know him, the former state representative that was redistricted out of his position so he campaigned for a County job.  Likable enough guy, acts like he cares about the community, claims to be fighting for the people … and for the most part I believe him.

 As I understand it, his job is to review a proposal so he understands it well, then take the time to explain it to the public so we understand it—both pros and cons—allow us to tell him how we feel about said proposal so he can return to the council and act on our behalf.

 Except this time, regarding the road closure McCune has done a poor job of that.  He hasn’t explained it to the public, especially the residents of Frederickson, a community that mostly doesn’t even know about this proposal to close a road that leads to one of the last remaining pieces of Frederickson history—Salcich Junction.

 The community now known as Frederickson was originally identified as Salcich Junction, after sawmill owner, William Salcich, who settled down in the area around 1907.  Salcich Junction became a bustling little community centered around multiple sawmills, a general store, and a post office named for Olaf B. Frederickson, who operated one of the sawmills between 1910 and 1920.  The post office was established on June 10, 1920 and received daily deliveries by train from Tacoma.  After a fire destroyed many of the sawmills and drove most residents from the area, the post office was closed in March of 1931.  Eighty-two years later, the general store and post office buildings are still standing and are being used as residences, but could one day become landmarks.  Today, like many local towns, the community of Frederickson is named for the post office it once had.

So, you see, though this area is important to maintain, and should not be something made harder to access.  Yet, after doing my research, digging through the difficult-to-find files of the Pierce County website, watching videos of past County Council meetings, I discovered that if done right the closure of the proposed section of 180th Street E will NOT be a negative thing.  It will be a positive thing for Frederickson.  

 Why am I telling you this? Because our elected official, Jim McCune, did not and he should have.

 During my research, naturally, I wanted to go to McCune first.  Having tried to reach out to him in the past about other things and not receiving a response or finding that he didn’t check certain emails listed on websites he had, I reached out on the one thing I knew he updates regularly and responds to … Facebook.  I posted a message saying I didn’t like the idea of the road closure.  

 He responded three days later with: “It’s too bad you are talking about something you don’t have the correct information on.  The junction you are talking about in Frederickson is not going to be part of the ordinance.  This project was first started by the former councilmember and the executive office of Pierce County for business in Frederickson.  I see this as a great opportunity to keep hundreds working there and get many back to work.  I hope you feel the same way.”

 Maybe I would if I knew anything about the proposed ordinance, which he offered no further information about, only giving me a simple “talking down to,” as we called it where I grew up.  I was upset.  This is a guy I voted for and I expected him to keep the public informed.  He could do that many different ways utilizing social media, newsletters, and community organizations like the F-CCCC, but he didn’t and didn’t seem to want to inform me either when he replied to me.  Maybe I angered him by questioning the proposal, but I really don’t care about that because, you see, I live in Frederickson and live on 180th Street E, just down the road from the area.  I walk my dogs down that stretch of road and I used it as a quick way to get onto Canyon when construction was happening on 176th this past year.  I am the resident—the citizen—that McCune should be informing and now he has angered me—a voter—by not doing his job and explaining this proposed ordinance.

 Now you’re asking: “So how will this road closure be good for Frederickson?”

 Simply, it will bring more jobs.  Jobs — something we desperately need more of in America right now, but these jobs will be in Frederickson and that is good for the local economy because the workers will spend that money here, close to home.  The proposal to close the section of road was initiated by James Hardie, a company that makes fiber cement siding and backerboard, because they want to expand across the road without having the road in the middle.  Why?  Because they have outgrown their current facility, and though James Hardie would like to stay in Frederickson, it would be easier to find another location outside of PierceCounty if this proposal is not approved.

 How does this help the historic Salcich Junction general store and post office buildings? Though the road closure still affects easy access to the area via 180th Street E, it was mentioned that 50th Ave E would be extended north to intersect with 176th Street E.  This does two things:

 1)  Alows easier truck access to the many businesses along 50th Ave.

2)  Allows easier access to the Salcich Junction area via a newly built road.  

I can live with this solution.

Yet, I still strongly believe that all the businesses that enjoy the ability to work and grow in Frederickson, not just James Hardie, should give back to the community.  Protect the Salcich Junction area and its history because these great businesses are now the legacy that once was a single sawmill.  

I challenge these businesses to help Frederickson—the community—grow as well by partnering with such groups as the F-CCCC and the Frederickson Business Connections to create a sense of pride and ownership among those that live a work here.  Help a community of more than 20,000 residents build a public park by partnering with the Friends of Stan and JoanCrossPark.  Be part of the community, not just a building that takes up space in it.

 And I challenge Jim McCune to remember that just because a proposal may be good for the community does not mean he shouldn’t take the time to explain it to the community by any means necessary.

 ©  2013  Josh Magill

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9 Responses to Proposed road closure in Frederickson ignites controversy

  1. brucesmith49 says:

    Editor’s Note: The Mountain News received the following message from former Bethel School Board member, Marianne Lincoln, regarding the road closure:

    “I had to testify at the school board meeting about it so the Facilities Director could even act on this because it was being done too quickly to even get on their agenda… that’s knowingly done. The School district is very affected by bus route changes. They should be in the loop, but were not, nor was the Fire Department.

    This has become an issue because the process has not been sufficiently transparent to the voters and taxpayers. Hardie wants to take a roadway we paid for and they hope we will pay for a new road to replace it in trade for the promise of jobs. This is a question of whether the deal is good enough for both parties. Perhaps if Hardie is willing to pay for 50th Ave. to replace the section of 180th that they take, it would be more fair. God knows it takes the county forever to build a road out here. Ever hear of the Cross Base Highway? 21 years and counting…

    Marianne

  2. Dick Thurston says:

    The problem here is not with the closing of the road. It will not seriously affect anybody and the result will be more local jobs and more tax base, which is what we want and need. There is no free lunch. If somebody proposed to build a new plat bringing 100 jobs to he area and it would result in me having to take an extra five minutes to get to 176th street, I would say “Great.”

    The problem is the process and lack of notifications. As a member of the County Planning Commission, I have been trying, with varying degrees of success, to get the local Land Use Advisory Commissions (LUAC) more involved in local planning. In fact, one of my usual questions when an action comes before the Planning Commisssin is “Has this ben to the LUAC?”. Many projects, like this one, fall under the LUAC radar because they only directlky affect a few people. I would like too see the bar lowered a bit so that the LUAC’s get more information earlier.on the smaller projects of this kind and on some matters that currently don’t usually come between the LUACs. The Planning Commission is seven people. We can’t look at every small project in the County. But the LUACs can.and should.

    I am encouraged to see that more and more proposed actions are being referred to the LUAC’s. This is being incorporated into more and more county ordinances reating to land use and constructions. But my charge to you people who are complaining about lack of norification is ssimple. GET INVOLVED. And I don’t mean sitting on your haunches and howling AFTER something happens. Go to LUAC meetings and Community Council meetings. Right now these activities are being run by a small group of activists, like me, Josh and Marianne. But many LUAC’s have vacancies, some are unable to function properly because not enough people show up to make a quorum.

    So maybe once a week or once a month you could turn off your ESPN, soap operas or unreality shows and actually do something useful in your community? maybe you could actually help with the solution instead of being part of the proble? Think about it.

  3. John Marshall says:

    I tired to get involved Dick. I believe that I was notified on Friday or Saturday of a Tuesday hearing on the proposed road closure. I tuned in, and after hearing and seeing the proposal at it’s committee hearing, I realized that this was already decided. Yep, a done deal. Now I’ve seen this – Notify on Friday, come to the hearing on Tuesday before. The last one was about a month or so ago, sponsored by the same person and was attempting to, in my estimation, taking rights away from some property owners and giving those rights to another. As you might expect, there were many good folks complaining about the short notice and mainly complaining how their properties were going to be devalued so another could seek enrichment.

    So, as in my capacity of the Secretary of the Frederickson Clover Creek Community Council, and our group lacking a President to make and distribute the Agenda, having a Vice President who has delegated the meeting Agenda to me, I thought that I’d phone our County Representative and Invite him to speak at our April meeting and inform us about the proposed road closure. Several hours after leaving that message, I received a return call from Mr. McCune. If I could sum it up from my prospective, I would say that he was not pleased to get my phone message and the invite to inform our Council. It really seemed to go down hill fast when I started asking questions as how it might affect our area. I believe that I would have described what I heard was an irate person on the other end of the phone line. Admittedly, my hearing is not the best, but I believe that I is what I heard. In the end, I explained that the offer to attend our FCCCC meeting still stood and he could get back to me if he chose to attend.

    Several hours later, a nice lady named Amy called and told me that Council Member McCune would be attending our monthly meeting. Jim had mentioned during our conversation above, that James Hardie was going to hold a neighborhood meeting at their plant and now Amy was suggesting to me that we host the James Hardie meeting in conjunction with our FCCCC meeting. I declined that offer and said that I was encouraged that the Hardie company was going to host their own meeting to inform area residents and I will be happy to attend their meeting. I clearly declined to hold a meeting on their behalf. We have a very full agenda and I have graciously offered Mr. McCune one hour of time between 9AM and 11AM and told Amy that we would rearrange our Agenda to accomodate Mr. McCune for 1 hour.

    So, Dick, I got involved and am really sorry that I did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    .

    • Dick Thurston says:

      John, my comment to “get involved” was not direc ted at you, Josh or Marianne. You are all involved in the community. My beef is with the people that don’t attend meetings, don’t join community groups. There are only about a dozen of us activists in Fredericklson and comparable numbers in Graham, Spanaway and South Hill. We need to get more people involved. My plea is for the people who do nothing for their community for 10 years and then complain when things go wrong, by which time it is often too late. We need to ensure that county officials and departments are aware of the needs of our communities so they don’t get all their information from developers and other “special interests.”

      As members of our communities, we are “special interests” as well and we need to remind the county people of that at every opportunity. That doesn’t mean storming the castle with torches when something goes astray. It means working with legislators, county officials and other agencies on a regular basis. Remember Thurston’s Three Laws of Political Action:

      1. Activity gets you access.
      2. Access gets you influence.
      3. Influence gets you power.

      You don’t have to be obnoxious, overbearing or bring together mobs of protestors to be effective.
      Once people in power are aware that you are active, have reasonable ideas and are willing to work out differences, you will have access, influence and power. It may not be much power, but it is better than nothing.

  4. John Marshall says:

    Turn me over – I’m done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Josh Magill says:

      John, I love you. You know the circumstances. I wish I could change them and help much more. You see I’m still fighting the good fight. I love Frederickson.

  5. Claudia Branham says:

    Here are the facts, took a little research.
    In the first paragraph its not a proposal, its a resolution which initiates a study of the potential effects of the road closure by the County Engineer. Just getting the project out there so the voters can make comments. Also, it is not quietly moving thru the process, it’s been here way before I came to the council. The executive office has been working with James Hardy Inc.

    In the second paragraph, nothings been announced because it hasn’t been run thru the proper course yet to make any announcements. But at the first committee meeting we found out that the ordinance only states a posting sign by County Engineers at both ends of the street. So, we decided to do a mailing to the local resident, those who live on this road area. The fire dept. and the school district will be contacted at the proper time.

    3.Frederickson is a designated industrial park to keep the big corporations in one area so we will not have corporate sprawl.

    4. Salcich Junction is not being touched.

    5. 50th is being taken all the way thru to 176th with private industry dollars to put in a road and a traffic light.

    6. This is a long way from a finished project, we are still in the talking process. James Hardy Inc. has to make pay for the easement for the county road, make arrangement with the power company, and with the fiber optic company. So that it will take quite a process to get to the final stages.

    7. James hardy Inc. it is not McCune’s job to ask private companies to give away their finances to the public. This corporation is creating jobs for our community, if the community can do this.

    8. To date only one person has contacted McCune’s office about this resolution No.R2013-20 which is the first step in the process.

    It seems to me that blaming a new councilman who has been in office 3 months is like all those blaming “President Bush” in reverse

    • Josh Magill says:

      I would ask you to do more research. You are correct–a proposal means we have some say, but a resolution we don’t. The public will not get a say on if this road is closed. Once the County Engineer completed the review the Council made the decison to close it. Done deal. The extension of 50th and the expansion of James Hardie are not part of this. This is just to close the road and give away the right of way. The rest will come later, but the road will have already been closed with not public input, just the input of James Hardie, an engineer and the county council. By law (a stupid law) the County does not have to announce anything until it is done. When the put up the signs the the signs will be to say the road will be closed, not that their is a possibility of such a closure. That ship will have sailed. I assert that it is the councilman’s job to explain it to the public. FYI … I reached out to him, and I know of at least three others that have, so saying that only one did it false. Just because McCune doesn’t admit that those reached out to him doesn’t make it so. I’m not blaming McCune for the issue. I know the past councilman started it, but I do expect the councilman to explain it since it has his name on it as the sponsor (not the old councilman’s name). If it is not the coucilman’s job to ask a profitable company to pay for such an expasion than who’s job is it? Yours, mine, someone else? It will be all those folks that are unemployed or underemployed that pay for it, right? Frederickson is NOT a designated industrial park. It happens to have an industrial park in it. There are more than 20,000 people that LIVE in Frederickson who would disagree that it is JUST an industrial park. This community is NOT all about businesses. Do you live in Frederickson? If so, you must not care about it, especially saying it is just an industrial park. WOW!!! Salcich Junction will not be “touched” with this particular closure, but the continued effects could negatively affect it if it is not taken into account. We should be working to save the history of our long-time communities. My whole point in my original piece is that a councilperson is elected by and accountable to the people and if they are going to sponsor anything (even if something that may be beneficial or sponsored by a past official) they should talk to the people of that area. Lastly, the community would love to help create jobs, but give us some say in how it is done rather than say dumb things like “Frederickson is an industrial park” and decide things for us without asking.

  6. Josh Magill says:

    FYI … the council has back down some from it’s last meetings and it reaching out to the Frederickson community. So it James Hardie. I don’t believe this would have happened without residents making a stink about it. It was definitely more than one resident, as Claudia states in her comment. This was residents being smart and using media the right way.

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