This week the City of Montesano, in conjunction with the City volunteer Planning Committee, began a series of public meetings. The meetings consisted of a presentation outlining a general community plan. The study mostly concerning the future direction of the city downtown district. The meeting presented by Will Foster, Chair, and Ken Albert, Vice-Chair. For those that could not attend one of the meetings, I did film one and it is available for viewing un-edited at - SEE VIDEO POSTING -
A few observations. We as residents could not ask for two better fellow neighbors to be thinking about the future of the town. Both Will and Ken would be considered the “smart guys” in any room they enter. They also have an uncanny ability to even be able to finish each other’s sentences….although I doubt they are aware of it. I am sure both men would like credit given to the others on the committee as well. We have the right people in the right place at the right time. Credit also to Mayor Ken Estes who has the gift of putting the right people in place.
The meeting I attended drew about fifteen local residents who were quick to offer suggestions as well as tweaks here and there to the outline that was presented. Montesano Mayor Ken Estes attended and further related issues. In short a very well presented local meeting and the result of countless behind-the-scene hours that proceeded it. It is said that this type of volunteering to help the city is often a thankless position. Well, I would like to say thank you to the entire committee.
The plan presented dealt with the Montesano core downtown area. A much needed general plan to act as a guideline. Trees, landscaping, building appeal, cosmetics. At one point the discussion in the room turned to money. Mayor Estes related something that all of us are aware of……we are broke. Even to the point that a discussion developed as to if we would have the money to rake the leaves from said adding trees and beautification of the city. Mayor Estes further related that things are getting so bad, and state money is drying up so fast….that we may “lose” a city employee next year if things don’t change.
Where I would like to see a balance in community planning is not so much in planting more trees, trying to get more people into Lake Sylvia (the campground is full every night in season), or even driving more people off the highway into the gas stations. I want to see jobs.
The current plan does not address the issue of either light or heavy industrial growth. When I asked the question concerning this area - it was related to me that at some future point the issue will be addressed, perhaps to the point of annexation of land to create space. Where I would differ from the plan presented is to first develop a job base and then worry about everything else. Without the money and jobs, we can’t buy the trees, or pay someone to rake the leaves.
NOTE: click images above for larger views of residential and business guidelines
THE EXAMPLE OF MCCLEARY:
Let’s take a quick look at one of our neighbors. If a town has been kicked in the teeth more than McCleary lately, I don’t know where it is. Store after store, banks, even their health care all deserted the town. It was getting pretty grim. Utter panic should have happened. Instead, they did nothing less than huddle in a back room looked at how to take advantage of their zoning – and as was announced the day of our own Planning meeting discussed above - a new manufacturing facility with as many as four hundred jobs is coming to town. PRESS RELEASE - Well done McCleary! Well done.
McCleary now has the money to plant all the trees they want. Establish an arts district….maybe even make a big bear sculpture. Small businesses will pop up to service all the people associated with the manufacturing. Their home values will go up. Maybe a new copy machine at the police station. Kids from the community will not be pushed out to make their way in the world. They can actually stay. All sorts of good things. Their Mayor is going to be high stepping into County Mayor meetings trying to act sympathetic as the other Mayors lament over their financial plights.
We in Montesano are blessed with an abundance of natural resources at our fingertips. We have ocean access, a city forest, even a rail line. Our history is one of self-reliance. We used to make things here. Somewhere along the line the town has decided that a man who has dirt under his fingernails or sweat on his neck doesn’t belong here. The sound of a hammer striking iron or sawdust on the floor – uncouth. While art, sipping five dollar cups of coffee, pretty streets, and fancy building facades are cool things….without the economic base to support them, it is all a dream. A Montesano geared more toward selling Chinese goods off it’s shelves over producing goods to sell to China seems to be our direction. Combine this with the coming six or more dollar a gallon gas, and a tourist reliance could prove dangerous.
Again, I want to stress how lucky we are to have the city committee we have, I would only offer the suggestion that perhaps it is more prudent to worry first about the cart …and then go shopping for a horse.