Letter to editor: Criticism of port commissioners ‘grossly misleading’

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Editor:

It is with great dismay that I read the opponents of the incumbent port commissioners are lambasting them with inaccuracies and good old fashioned scare tactics. Our Edmonds citizens deserve honesty and better discourse. Criticizing the current port commissioners for neglecting and not caring about the marsh is grossly misleading. The port has spent close to four million dollars in clean up, improvements, and restoration without “being forced to.”  I know, I was there. As a former port executive director, I took part in the port’s enormous effort to improve the marsh’s environmental condition.

Lora Petso’s signs say, “Protect our Marsh.” Voters need to ask Ms. Petso the following:

Since both the Tulalip Tribes and Washington State Department of Ecology agree that surface water runoff from the roads and areas around the marsh is the biggest concern (not size of the buffers in this case), and since the City of Edmonds owns 90 percent of the Marsh, what specific steps did she take as a city councilmember to clean up the surface water runoff before it entered the marsh?

Fortunately, others have recognized the port for the excellent work it has and continues to do based on its financial stability, integrity and environmental programs. The port received the National Marina of the Year award from a national publication, the “Best of Western Washington Award” from KING 5 TV, and a five star rating, the highest, by the County Enviro Award program.

In addition, the port has received the Certified Leadership Clean Boat Yard and Clean Marina Awards for its environmental policies. Both are given for going above and beyond regulations.

The incumbent port commissioners have done an excellent job in not only fulfilling their responsibilities, but have exceeded them.  I urge you to cast your vote based on facts not on fear.  Our incumbents, Bruce Faires, Steve Johnston, and Fred Gouge deserve another term.

Christopher W. Keuss
Former Executive Director
Port of Edmonds

8 COMMENTS

  1. Here once again we have an example of conflating achievements at the marina with the anti-environment actions (legal, PR, and fiscal) taken by the Port of Edmonds Commission. In the two expensive, professionally produced at about $8,000. per mailing, brochures that the Port sent to voters in the City of Edmonds, there was no mention of their plans to protect the marsh. The achievements cited by the Port were required by state and/or federal laws such as the Clean Water Act. Please do not confuse, obfuscate, or deceive voters by conflating marsh protection with required marina achievements.

  2. If you are referring to the Tulalip Tribes letter of 4/2/2017, please note that I was not on Council at that time. I am confident that a majority of our Council will work on storm drainage solutions.

  3. Mr. Keuss does a good job talking up the Edmonds Marina, but his points and facts about Harbor Square and the Marsh need some closer inspection. The Edmonds Port was required by the Dept. of Ecology to clean up the toxic material at the Harbor Square site. The DOE didn’t “force” them to, but this is a parsing of words. If DOE requirements aren’t met, there are increasing levels of sanctions. Did the Port want to risk losing its operating permit? Heck no, so they “voluntarily” cleaned up the contaminated soil. Were they able, through the years, to take greater measures to guard against polluted runoff at Harbor Square? Of course they were, they just chose not to. Could the Port stop spraying pesticides on Port property? Of course, but again they choose not to. The Harbor Square Master Plan is the icing on the cake. In the Ports own minutes from 3-1-17, Bruce Faires talks about how high-density condos and buildings up to 55′ in height represent the “best use of the property.” The Port seems to be playing a long game here, where they keep their heads down and wait until different people are on the City Council, at which time they will reintroduce their Master Plan and get what they want – high density condos and 55′ buildings. Everything else that the Port talks about during this election is a smokescreen for this plan, and they are going to extraordinary lengths to divert attention from it.

  4. I totally agree that Edmonds citizens deserve honesty and better discourse on the incumbent Port Commissioners actions affecting the Edmonds Marsh, and thus have to dispute Mr. Kuess’ comments. We all know it is a documented fact that the Port tried to have the buffer around the Marsh reduced to 25-feet. Can anybody say with a straight-face that demonstrates care for the health of the Marsh?? In regards to honesty Mr. Kuess, why aren’t you telling the whole truth about the $4M you say the Port spent for cleanup, improvements and restoration. The Save Our Marsh group had to submit a Public Records Request to get the truth. We found the actual Port documents (some with your name on them) that describe the Port’s true motivation for cleanup, and it WAS NOT due to concern about the health of the Marsh.

  5. Mr Keuss,

    While I appreciate your letter noting your support for the current panel of Port Commissioners, as a candidate, I would contest a few of the items in your letter.

    First, thank you for your service to our community. These clean marina/boatyard awards mean a lot to the reputation of the Port of Edmonds and they are reflections of our community’s values. And as you note – there is a lot to do to improve the environmental condition of the Edmonds Marsh. This is a contaminated area, as are many ports in our region.

    I will suggest a different analysis-

    The Tulalip tribes and the Dept of Ecol letters both describe that surface water run-off is a problem for the marsh. The Dept of Ecol letter provides a rather simplistic view of the holistic issues facing our marsh. The Tulalips letter is more explicit and starts as follows – “The Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Department considers the daylighting of Willow Creek and the reintroduction of natural tidal flow to the Edmonds Marsh a critical component to salmon recovery in marine environment of WRIA 8. Most of the historic shoreline refuge and rearing habitat for juvenile salmon including ESA listed Puget Sound Chinook has been lost due to development such as construction of the rail line along the shoreline, filling the pocket estuaries and salt marshes, and urban development.” It goes on to say that the best thing for the marsh would be to improve the hydrologic connection with the Puget Sound, and the complex stormwater runoff issue, allowing the water connections to improve the environmental functions of the marsh. There are no simple “sound bite” solutions here, just collaboration and creativity.

    This is not a personal (“lambasting”) attack on any of the sitting commissioners, rather an opposite view point. I’m happy to support economic opportunities that don’t impact the marsh or could possibly raise building heights at the waterfront. These aren’t scare tactics. I cannot support any private residential for the two simple reasons: it would privatize access to natural areas (marsh and possibly the Sound) and it restricts the Port from the flexibility it would need if there were changes needed in the future. Residential development in that area would be irresponsible, financially for the Port and for our community.

    These aren’t scare tactics, this is a different vision for the future.

    Susan Paine

    • As a strong supporter of all three port commissioners I obviously disagree with some of your comments, but I very much appreciate how respectfully you’ve presented them.

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