Given my sour experience at the last public meeting regarding rezoning the isthmus, I was not particularly eager to revisit the pointlessness and mind-numbing stupidity of last night’s edition. And given the news coverage of the event, apparently I didn’t miss much. Again, almost everyone who testified seemed to misunderstand what the hearing was about: whether to allow somewhat taller structures than are currently allowed to be built on a narrow strip of land in downtown Olympia. The hearing was not about whether building should be allowed on that strip of land at all, whether some or all of the current structures should be razed and replaced with park, whether someone should be permitted to build luxury residences downtown in general or on the isthmus in particular, or whether Tri Vo specifically should be permitted to build luxury residences, and if so whether it should be granted taxpayer-backed financial incentives to do so. Some of these questions, especially the financial incentives question, are valid topics for debate.
Others, like the so-called “raze and replace with a park” option, are not. Contrary to what John Reilly, member and spokesperson of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, and his 4400 signatures suggest. The reason? Reilly “said he doesn’t know how [turning the isthmus into a park] would be done – perhaps with some mix of private and public money – but that the idea should be studied.” To that end, the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation is directing the City through a local initiative “to conduct a feasibility analysis on acquiring and developing a part of the isthmus as a public park.” I can tell you right now: it isn’t feasible. Even without the rezone, the isthmus land is extraordinarily valuable, and therefore costly to purchase. The money simply isn’t there. Requesting that the City expend tax dollars conducting such an analysis is wasteful and irresponsible.
To that end, I’m asking that the members of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation pony up the dough for this feasibility analysis. If these private citizens put their own money where their petition-signing pens are, and if the resulting feasibility analysis indicates anything other than “expensive,” I’ll personally reimburse the Foundation up to $1000. [I'd offer to reimburse more, but frankly I'm not the sort of person who could afford the units at Larida Passage, and I'm conscious of the fact that I may be wrong about the value of the land.]