Resolve Not to Allow Mr. Willis’ Conference Center to Waste Our Community’s Resources

As a member of the Board of the GNA, I have to say there’s one thing that particularly angers me about the conference center being proposed by Lance Willis of the Willis Family Trust. It’s not so much that this is a large commercial enterprise that is being proposed for residential property. It’s not that the project was never intended to be a “community center” – Mr. Willis calls it that only to fit the requirements of the county’s Special Use Permit. It doesn’t especially make me mad that the County’s own staff appears to be doing whatever it can to make sure the project succeeds, even though there are big, full-service conference facilities 4 minutes up US-101, at the Little Creek Casino.

None of that especially angers me.

I expect developers to feel they sometimes need to lie about their projects, in order to get them approved. I have observed the county staff sometimes acts as if they don’t know the law and as if it were someone else’s job, not theirs, to responsibly execute the people’s business and handle the people’s money. I understand that this County government feels it must tax us and then turn around and force us to have to pay, in time and money, to fight the County over its failure to responsibly enforce its own laws.

What really makes me mad is how many community resources are being squandered in this fight.

Mr. Willis once claimed he wouldn’t build his facility, if the community didn’t want it. Although the GNA has repeatedly turned out crowds of local people – evenings, during work days – who have voiced their opposition, Lance Willis continues with his plans. In doing so, he is demonstrating only contempt for those of us who live here. There are so many far more worthwhile efforts we should be undertaking, instead of battling with this out-of-state, and utterly out of touch, developer.

We have a plan and, with your help, we’ll never see the conference center break ground on Steamboat Island Road.

The good news is, with your help, the GNA can continue its efforts in several areas entirely separate from opposing Mr. Willis’ project.

Emergency preparedness planning is continuing. We are working closely with the fire and school districts, and offices of the County and State governments, on emergency preparedness. We need to have a plan for the natural disaster, the avian flu, or whatever might cut off our electricity, block our road access to Olympia, or might damage or demolish some our homes.

Members of the GNA are planning improvements to the Blueberry Farm and others are working to secure the liability insurance necessary to open the Blueberry Farm up to public picking. This is turning into a real success story, after years of seeking a formal arrangement to secure access and maintenance rights to the Blueberry Farm.

There is so much more that could be done, though, and we need your help to do it.

We could be helping one another to identify special habitat, to take advantage of the significant – and temporary – tax advantages presently available for conservation easements. We could be developing a bridge fund, to purchase and preserve habitat on our peninsula.

We ought to be working with the county to help it to reform is laws so we can, as homeowners, both enjoy the use of our property and retain the rural qualities of this area.

Join us. Please contribute your time and your money to support our efforts. By doing so, you can help us to encourage responsible development which will benefit local residents, while preserving some of the characteristics that attracted us to this area, in the first place. Join us, because together we can make a difference.


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