Letters to the Editor

Letters from Oct. 10, 2007

Feedback: Val and her “pit-to-pier” errors

Val Torrens’ article on Fred Hill Material (CK Reporter, Oct. 3) was filled with so many factual errors that one wonders if she wrote as a failed politician or as a misguided journalist. Fred Hill Material has been a great neighbor and employer to Kitsap County and deserved better.

Ms. Torrens states that “the original Fred Hill went public with his opposition to the project.” She then states that “his progeny do not share the same unselfish view.” Given the fact that Fred Hill Sr. died more than 20 years ago and the pit-to-pier project was not even contemplated until recently, I am wondering how she could make this claim. Perhaps she had a seance and communicated with Mr. Hill in the afterlife?

Ms. Torrens states that the Hood Canal Bridge will be hit by a ship or barge and made useless. “Again, it’s not a matter of if but when!” Everyone who lives on the water knows that ship and barges have gone through the Hood Canal Bridge for the last 20 years. For the last decade, we have had nuclear submarines from Bangor go through the bridge without incident. Where is Ms. Torrens’ facts to back up her misguided claims?

Ms. Torrens states that the pit-to-pier project has little support and will be an environmental disaster. In fact, more than 2,100 citizens and every union in the state has openly supported the project. I was Chief of Staff to Congressman Mike Lowry and have worked for the Sierra Club and the league of Conservation Voters. As a lifelong environmentalist, I believe that the pit-to-pier project will bring much needed jobs to Jefferson County and provide sand and gravel for widespread beach reclamation.

Instead of taking cheap shots at Fred Hill’s progeny, Ms. Torrens should look at the leaders of the Hood Canal Coalition. One was refused an appointment to the WSU Board of Regents by the State Senate for making sexist and anti-union remarks. I still have a copy of a letter that he sent to my daughter-in-law calling her a whore for her support of the pit-to-pier project. The other demanded that FHM purchase his property or give him a job or face his opposition to the project.

Ms. Torrens’ article was a sad day for journalism. At the least, she owes the Hill family an apology.


Bainbridge Island

Where’s the fact-based argument

While I defend Ms. Torrens’ right to an opinion concerning the “pit-to-pier” project, I deplore her factual inaccuracy and her effort to use unsubstantiated fear to support her arguments.

Watercraft operating under the command of licensed professional mariners enjoy a safety record second to none. The safety record of ships and craft plying the waters of Puget Sound certainly support that finding. To insinuate, by inappropriate reference, that professional captains are drunks is slanderous and beneath the dignity of the discussion. Ms. Torrens’ attempt to evoke fear of a drunk crew causing a collision with the Hood Canal Bridge as basis to oppose the pit-to-pier project should provide sufficient reason to disregard her position on the issue.

Marine operations in Hood Canal have a good safety record. When I first came to Kitsap in 1980, I was in a position to monitor the watercraft traffic in Hood Canal almost everyday. At that time, traffic was normally heavy with large private craft, gill netters and other large fishing craft operating in the Canal and in close proximity of the bridge. Small log broncs routinely towed large log booms up the canal to the sawmill. All of those craft routinely passed through the bridge without incident. Add to that the routine passage of military and other commercial craft and the record shows one of near perfect safety with respect to the bridge. Professional mariners understand that “a collision at sea can ruin your entire day.” Ms. Torrens’ attempt to identify the periodic routine passage of commercial traffic through the bridge as a potential for major disaster is beneath contempt.

Finally, the entire concept of the “pit-to-pier” project represents a cornerstone economic development effort and an example of a primary wealth generating industry. In pit-to-pier a natural resource is taken from the land of the property owner, with value added through investment of human endeavor, transported and sold outside of the local area. The fiscal benefit of the operation accrues to the area in the form of new money. Gravel goes out and money comes in. That is the very best and most beneficial kind of economic development. Additionally, one goal of the Growth Management Act is to “maintain and enhance natural resource industries.” “Pit-to-pier” would seem to fit in that goal.

There may be other reasons to object to the project but marine safety and economic concerns are not valid reasons for objection. While this is not an endorsement for the project it is an endorsement for truth and fact-based argument when discussing the project.



Can the county get it right this time?

No flush, no rush: Nice article (CK Reporter editorial, Oct. 6). It is obvious that the writer is able to understand what flows down hill. Too bad our commissioners couldn’t figure it out. The then-seated, stubborn commissioners were told by many including the Home Builders Association, the Realtors, the conservationists, the tribes, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, their very own Buildable Lands committee and their staff, that there needed to be a cost analysis and plan for sewer expansion. Kitsap has had the misfortune of having the majority of commissioners that just didn’t care to listen to anyone. They had their own opinion of how things should be and what is best for Kitsap County and did not want to be confused with public input.

With two new commissioners, the citizens of Kitsap now stand a better chance of having their input on major issues considered without prejudice. It is unfortunate that the builders and all related industries such as lenders, title companies, lumber suppliers, delivery services, carpenters and all other trades and crafts, along with their families are put on hold while sewer services for the expanded Urban Growth Areas are properly considered.

A “thank you” is deserved by those who appealed the plan to the Hearings Board. Maybe the county can get it right this time. Let’s hope so.



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