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