Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boy Was I Wrong: No Gravel Pit On Vashon Island Opponents Devise Plan To Buy Mining Operation

In early 2009 I wrote a post that pointed out that it looked like the Glacier Northwest no gravel pit on Vashon environmentalists had reached the end of the line in their attempts to stop the multinational Corporation from expansion of it mining operations on the Island. After a 10-year battle I reasoned it appeared to me that the company had in fact jumped through all the governmental hoops and should probably be allowed to run their business as they saw fit. I offered the opinion that perhaps the protesters should accept the fact and open up lines of communication with the company for the overall betterment of the community.

Boy was I wrong. 

Instead of accepting my call for a retreat the opponents of the expansion of mining redoubled their efforts. The turning point in the battle royal came with the election of a new State Land Commissioner Peter Goldmark. The new Commissioner Of Public Lands had, during his run for office, promised that if elected he would review the granting of the lease to aquatic areas surrounding the project that previously had been granted to Glacier Northwest by the outgoing Commissioner Doug Sutherland.  Sutherland’s granting of the lease was controversial because it was done at the end of his term and appeared to be a quid pro quo to the mining company in return for their campaign contributions.

Goldmark won the election and he fulfilled his promise. He informed the company that he had “grave concerns” about the project and had called for a complete review. That action put the company once again on the defensive and probably turned the tide in favor of the opponents of project. The other factor was the election of County Executive Dow Constantine. The new executive, and former 34th District State Senator, which includes Vashon Island, had been an opponent of the project for years.

Today the County Executive announced an agreement to purchase the property from its present owners CalPortland Materials Group. Large parts of the property will be converted to a park open to the public. The purchase is contingent on the Cascade Land Conservancy Group raising 2 million of the purchase price total of $36 million dollars and the approval of the King County Council.

Is this the end of the fight? Maybe it’s the beginning of the end. But what will we do if we don’t have the Vashon gravel pit controversy to kick around anymore?

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