'Town Meeting' discuses Wauna taffic, building


Danna Webster, KP News

The third public meeting by the Friends of the Old Wauna Post Office was held to discuss the two most important subjects: the traffic on State Route 302 and the historic building. The traffic solution was summed up by one woman in the audience after listening to a regional director of Washington State Department of Transportation, a state senator and a state representative: An increase in the traffic and more deaths would place SR-302 on the highway budget priority list. Unfortunately, she wasn’t much off the mark.

Regional State Highway Director Randy Haim explained the work done by his department and their budget. He discussed the priority list for the so-called “Nickel Tax” money and that SR-302 is not on that list. He mentioned that a vote on the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) plan has been postponed until November 2005. That plan would provide a budget for some highways not on the Nickel Tax list. However, there is an uphill battle to persuade voters to vote for more tax.

Sen. Bob Oke pointed out that when the monorail was approved, the car tab was increased by $400. Rep. Lantz added that it’s a common plaintive of voters that they are already paying for the bridge. Add those complaints to the increase in gas at the pumps and a tax increase doesn’t look pretty.

According to Haim, an estimate for improvements for two highways in our region, one of them being SR-302, is $143 million. Oke said the state is about $50 million behind what is needed for roads and bridges. “Far apart between the needs and revenues,” was Haim’s summation. A gentleman in the audience piped up that these traffic problems were on a five-year plan when he moved out here and that was 26 years ago.

The discussion turned to the condition of the Old Wauna Post Office. Lantz said although the building is “no architectural jewel,” it is evidence of what we had on our waterfront from the days of the water highways.

“This little, modest, falling-down building represents something significant in our district,” she said.

Lantz is co-chair of the Heritage Caucus, which oversees applications of cultural facilities like the Old Wauna Post Office. The building is a good candidate for funding, according to Garry Schalliol, director of the Heritage Resource Center for Washington State Historical Society. He explained that matching funds are used for modest projects like this. For every dollar the state puts in, the project puts in two and the project dollars can be “in-kind” monies.

Tim Kezele, president of the Key Peninsula Historic Society said “in-kind” support is already available for the building. One lumber company has offered materials and there are people willing to do the work. “From a historic view, it fits right into our mission,” Kezele said. He added that the Old Wauna Post Office, which represents the days of the Mosquito Fleet, is one of the few historic buildings left on the Peninsula because many others have been torn down or burned down. Kezele reported that improvement efforts were halted last year and the roofing has become unstable. Already there is some new water damage to the interior so it is important to have a new roof before the rains of next winter.

One resident commented, “It seems the people who want it moved are adamant,” while other voices in the audience chimed out, “It’s the traffic”…. “It’s an eyesore.”

Paul Garrison, a Wauna resident, offered the suggestion that a replica of the building could be built on some nearby state property, to which Lind replied, “I’m not really interested in another building.”

Lind told the audience earlier, “I like to clean up,” describing her cleanup projects at Rocky Creek Conservation Area and at Home Park. She said she wants to do the same for the Purdy Sand Spit. “It’s criminal how filthy that sand spit is,” she said. “The county is not going to do it.”

The Friends of the Old Wauna Post Office will take the building restoration proposal to KP Metro Park District for insurance authorization and they will ask the state for funding support, Lind said. So, as the Bard said, “to be or not to be: that is the question”—one that’s still up in the air for that little piece of history.