Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is failing to cooperate with the City of South Bend to expand the boat launch parking in South Bend. Also they may want to close the boat launch by dumping in WSDOT waste sites, which will block the launch.

In 2006 WSDOT met with Mayor Karl Heinicke and demanded that the city close the exit in front of the launch ramp and move it about 900 feet to the northwest on U.S. Highway 101, and expand parking lot to relieve parking on US101. The city in good faith closed the exit paid over $6,000 to place guard rails to block old ext and moved the exit about 900 feet. The city has also developed a design for expanding the parking and applied for funding. The design will relieve the traffic congestion that was created by the exit closure. The property is owned by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). The city has a 30-year operating agreement with WDFW to use the property. WDFW has been supportive of the expansion. Now WSDOT is failing to support their request. They appear to be suffering from a common aliment of bureaucracy - I don't recall that agreement.

This summer the city had some excess fill that they needed to dispose of, that fill has been deposited in low areas of the current parking area, and the expanded area. Recently, WSDOT has had a number of what I would call "drive-by shootings." WSDOT employees have driven by taken pictures and marked as the say "their" waste sites, and directed local WSDOT employees to harass the city about the dumping. WSDOT has chosen not too sit down with city officials to discuss their concern. The mayor asked me if I could try and resolve the issue.

When I requested a meeting with WSDOT, I received an answer back that the city was in WSDOT's waste site and implying we would need to vacate the sites. Someone from WSDOT has come and marked the waste sites. Is it WSDOT's intent to now fill the area? This would force closure of the boat launch and parking. What is in their head?

It's my view, WSDOT is just trying to bully the locals and impress us with their mighty power. Well, they have certainly made an impression! I'm sure all of you reading this are very impressed with WSDOT. Where in all of this is their desire to serve the public?

The city after two weeks has finally, with state Rep. Brian Blake's help got WSDOT to sit down with the city to discuss their department's issues, and hopefully stop this drive-by shootings. But more important, to get their support to expand the parking as they had requested.

City's objective is to make this public area open and useful to public not some over bloated bureaucracy, who are trying to bully us. The mayor needs the support from citizens in fighting this out of control bureaucracy.

Because many have asked, clarification: the "No Parking" signs refer to "unattended" vehicles. Many citizens use this area to park and enjoy the view. That's OK. Steve Russell has spent a great deal of his time recently improving the area. Enjoy the view!

Ron Craig

South Bend

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