13 September 2008

Opposition to Isthmus Rezone

Me at the Law Enforcement MemorialThis is me, photo taken by Julie Woods. She also took one with her camera. I'll link to it if I get a chance.

The photo was taken at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial. It overlooks Capitol Lake, and Budd Inlet, and a hotly contested area of land between the water. The area of land is known as the Isthmus. In Olympia, Washington the isthmus is widely regarded, if not commonly regarded, as a sacred space. It is the heart of Olympia. It is where the fresh water of the Deschutes River, which originates from a glacier upon the majestic slopes of Mount Rainier, meets the deep waters of Budd Inlet and the Puget Sound - and eventually the Pacific Ocean and the World Ocean. The isthmus is where a person can view the State Capitol Campus in one direction, and the Olympic Mountains in the other.

This area symbolizes the connection that exists between Olympia and the World. Olympia is a world city - it is known for looking past the conflicts that plague the federal government and taking steps to make the world a better place to live, all on its own.

I envision a park in this space. A monument to citizen engagement. A monument to the societal and city relationship with the world - and with nature.

The park would serve the people in many ways. It would provide for recreation. It would provide an avenue for education about the environment, about ecology and sustainability. It would also attract people to downtown - as residents, as visitors, as investors.

Olympia has a lot of novel features. It is a novel city in many respects. A park feature on the isthmus would only improve these aspects.

Part of my vision, and I think it is shared amongst a considerable population of Olympia residents, is for a dense urban core juxtaposed with an open park area, to include areas that would be semi-wilderness, as well as more traditional recreational features: walking trails, playgrounds, fields for games, etc.

Imagine: 15,000 more people living AND working downtown. People living within walking, bicycling or wheel chair distance to their work place. New schools. New businesses.

A park feature on the isthmus is the perfect opportunity to initiate that process. A park feature, and the denial of a proposed rezone, is the perfect way to begin to move toward a vision of true, functional, sustainability.

I won't let Triway, the developer who has proposed the rezone in an effort to allow the construction of a gigantic building that would be full of an estimated 141 luxury condominiums, badger me or threatren me with the prospect of a low-rise office building (given the denial of the rezone proposal.)

I know what I want. I think that I know what would best serve the community. I know that the public interest outranks and trumps private interests, especially in matters that involve zoning.

For more information, please see Isthmus 2008 [my flickr photoset]


The rezone has been proposed by Triway Enterprises.

One group, OLY 2012, has formed to provide nuanced support for the rezone. OLY 2012 advocates Smart Growth.

Several groups are working to oppose the rezone:

People for a Participatory City

Friends of the Waterfront

20/20 Vision Olympia

Olympia Capitol Park Foundation

You can find more information at OlyBlog: Isthmus 2008 (even though it's not an isthmus),

And at Works in Progress.

- bert

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