KVOS Special: Guemes Island - Beginning or End?
- I'm a capitalist.
- This is not socialism.
- If those people that want to buy this property,
- let them come around with their checkbook.
- And let them buy it for recreational area.
- They have no right to tell me what to do,
- and I'll fight this state, the federal government,
- or anybody else.
- I want to preface my remarks by saying that this is strictly
- my opinion.
- But after meeting with the gentleman in New York,
- and in Texas, and so forth, it is my personal opinion
- that if we do not get the plant on Guemes Island,
- it will not go in the state of Washington.
- It's the position of this committee
- that the San Juan Islands are no place for heavy industry.
- Well, I believe it'll be good for the whole area--
- the county, and Guemes, and Anacortes--
- our young people, everybody.
- I think it's really the first time in our life
- we'll be a real asset to the Skagit County.
- What about the objections that you're
- going to deprive the island of its scenery
- and make it tough on beach home residents
- and other permanent residents?
- I think actually these people are worried about something
- that doesn't exist.
- I doubt if our permanent population
- will increase very many.
- I think most of the workers will live in town.
- And I see no reason why an aluminum
- plant will interfere, essentially,
- with beach property.
- Because it's privately owned and privately controlled,
- and although we'll have more traffic on our roads,
- I don't think it'll affect the beach property at all.
- Or very little, at least.
- There's been some sentiment expressed
- about possible fallout from this plant.
- Well, according to my information,
- it's a process developed by the University of Washington
- and has practically--
- well, over 95% recovery and a scrubbing process,
- so we're assured there won't be any pollution--
- very, very little.
- There hasn't been in Intalco, for instance.
- It's been very clean.
- I think they are so sick of people where they live,
- that they come up here.
- They don't want to see any people.
- That's my opinion.
- I don't know.
- I like people.
- I like children.
- I like kids.
- That's why I'm a teacher.
- And I think these people are just sick and tired of people.
- And that's why they want the aluminum plant to stay away,
- because they think that if an aluminum plant comes in,
- there are people that'll come.
- And they'll-- their little private bit of heaven will be
- That's my opinion.
- Won't that be true, to some extent, if the plant comes?
- Well, it's true.
- But in this life, you pay for what you get.
- And if you don't want it, of course,
- you don't want to pay for it.
- But I think we'll get far more with a plant coming
- than we'll lose by it's coming.
- I think it'll be a real asset to this country in this area.
- What about this "Save the San Juans?"
- Do you subscribe to the theory that Guemes is not a San Juan
- Well, it never has been until the committee was formed.
- But I don't think it matters.
- The San Juans are known nationally.
- Guemes was never heard of, until the Northwest aluminum
- plant decided to come here.
- And they couldn't fight "Save Guemes"
- because nobody gives a hoot about Guemes.
- They want to save their own private little bailiwick--
- the little piece of ground that they sit on, I think.
- What are your people doing-- the people
- who are promoting bringing the plant here?
- Trying to get the truth to the people
- of what this thing actually is.
- They came out and said it was 102 to 2.
- Well, that's not true.
- It just wasn't.
- And most of the registered voters on this island
- are in favor of the plant.
- And there's quite a few that are neutral.
- And a very few-- it's a minority that's
- against it, in my opinion.
- What would you like to see the community--
- the residents of Guemes Island--
- do now?
- I'd like to see them work together.
- And I'd like to see us put part of this as industrial,
- as it could or should be, and then
- to actually zone the residential and the recreational area.
- And then all of us work together to keep it that way,
- so that a person was safe and knowing
- the industry wouldn't encroach upon his land in later years.
- We looked a long time for some place
- where we could be not too far from the big city,
- and yet be removed from the city.
- We, in fact-- we covered Camano and Whidbey
- and many other places, but getting off on an island
- like this was an opportunity to get away from things.
- That was really the reason for coming here.
- So I don't know.
- It just breaks into things that way.
- We like the idea that the people of Guemes Island
- are able to roll up the carpet at six o'clock at night
- when the last ferry leaves.
- And we're not desirous of any additional ferries.
- What about the water situation?
- The people in Anacortes who are promoting this plant
- say they'll solve your water problems.
- Well, yeah, you're not going to get anything for free.
- I don't think that anybody ever did.
- We had a couple of shallow wells here at the time,
- and they didn't give us adequate water.
- So we drilled, and we now have all the water
- we could ever want.
- So that's a problem you can solve yourself.
- They bring you water.
- It's going to be just like the improvements in the city.
- You're going to pay for them.
- Pay for them, and you think, maybe, a little more?
- Oh, quite a little bit more from my experience
- in these big developments of Metro
- in the city and things of that kind.
- We like to stay kind of countrified and out away
- from it all.
- Mrs. Bush, what's been your feeling about this
- since it began?
- Well, I feel that this transcends all personalities--
- all anything of that nature.
- It's much more important to preserve
- the island for posterity, the future generations,
- and some place for people to come and relax,
- which is necessary in this day and age with all the hustle
- and bustle and high pressure that men are under.
- And it's relaxing to come to a quiet spot.
- We love it.
- You'd like to keep it this way.
- I would love to keep it this way.
- Would you mind if they put the plant on some other San Juan
- 1,000 times, no.
- Just keep them pure.
- That's my feeling.
- Alan, from a young man's standpoint.
- You're engaged in-- with your father here-- on ranching.
- What do you feel about the plant?
- Well, naturally, I'm not in favor of the plant here.
- I came here to--
- interested in raising cattle and living in a quiet atmosphere.
- And this is what I intend to do.
- I'm not for this aluminum company at all,
- or for any kind of industry on this island.
- There are plenty of places elsewhere
- for something such as this.
- Mr. Mackey is an Anacortes banker,
- chairman of the Chamber's industrial committee here.
- You're familiar with the company Northwest Aluminum?
- Yes, I am.
- There have been a lot of questions.
- What is Northwest Aluminum?
- Well, it's a new corporation that has been organized.
- I understand that they filed for their corporate papers
- in the state of Delaware.
- It's basically composed of Texas Aluminum, Bell Intercontinental
- Corporation and Yawata Steel, a Japanese company.
- There have been comments that this is entirely
- a paper organization.
- This is a paper company, and it's
- going to live on credit to get started.
- You're a banker.
- What about that?
- We were assured in our visits to Texas, and then to New York,
- and with Bell Intercontinental and Texas Aluminum
- and so forth, that this is not the case.
- We didn't go into great detail as to the setup of the thing.
- However, we were well assured that certainly it was not just
- a paper corporation, that there will be heavy capital
- investment by the individuals.
- You've talked to some of the principals in the Northwest
- What assurances have been made, as far as technology
- and the prevention of air pollution
- and the construction of a pleasing sight?
- Well, we visited the Texas aluminum plant.
- It is well buffered.
- The total acreage is utilized, probably at least half
- of it for buffer zones around the plant.
- So with this in mind-- that this is the type of operation
- they run-- we are well assured that they
- will run the same type of operation over here.
- As to pollution, we are assured that this
- will be the most modern, most pollution-free plant
- that it is possible to establish and create today.
- One of the subsidiary firms of Texas Aluminum
- is, in fact, engaged in manufacturing of certain air
- pollution preventatives.
- Well, I believe it's a subsidiary
- firm, or a wholly owned subsidiary of Equity
- Corporation, who is the parent corporation of Bell
- And this subsidiary firm is in the business of manufacturing
- pollution control equipment.
- They are renowned in their field and have developed
- and researched to the point that it
- will be the most modern facility available.
- Well, the Port of Anacortes, of course,
- was originally contacted by the company
- to help seek a site with the proper specifications--
- deep water requirements.
- They were also interested in our existing facilities,
- that they might be able to utilize those.
- So you have been working with the company for several months
- Approximately 10 months ago was the initial contact.
- Are there no other-- this question
- has been asked several times-- are there no other deep water
- sites in the immediate vicinity that would have all
- the other attributes necessary?
- There are no other deep water sites in the Anacortes area
- that would provide the approximately 750 acres
- of reasonably flat land adjoining
- 60 foot of draft and a protected harbor.
- We are opposed to this location of a plant on Guemes Island,
- for the simple reason that we think that the San Juans is
- no place for heavy industry.
- The island that I speak of, Guemes Island,
- is one on which I have a summer cabin, and like many people,
- enjoy the peaceful and quiet atmosphere there.
- To suggest that it would be converted to heavy industry
- was the remotest thing that anyone
- could have thought of earlier.
- However, it has been suggested.
- And it has been suggested that, for example, the zoning
- of Guemes Island, which is now entirely residential,
- would have to be changed to heavy industry-- a most
- radical change.
- We feel that the changes of this kind
- could affect the rest of the San Juans, which, like Guemes, have
- deep water access and are reasonably closely
- related to the mainland.
- And some of them have a considerable amount
- of flat area.
- We feel that it would be a grave mistake
- to convert one, or any, of the San Juan Islands
- to uses for which they were--
- as far as one can tell--
- naturally endowed by nature and namely,
- for recreational purposes.
- Now, it's a curious combination of circumstances
- that's led to this.
- It seems to me when there are alternative sites available,
- we don't stand in the way, or we don't
- wish to stand in the way, of Anacortes'
- development or Skagit County's development or the development
- of the whole state.
- But when one takes a look at the Atlas of Major Industrial Plant
- Sites, which has been published by the Bonneville Power
- Administration, for example, one can
- find quite a variety of sites with deep water access,
- with large acreage, and many of them, of course,
- already zoned industrial.
- For example, one might turn to Skagit County
- and find that the first site listed is
- located within Anacortes.
- It's a 500-acre site.
- It's level.
- It's already zoned for heavy industry.
- Now, the suggestion is to use Guemes Island to convert
- residential property-- recreation propery--
- to heavy industry.
- Here is already a deep water access,
- heavy industry zoned property.
- It's only by chance, apparently, that the Anacortes paper
- published just this past week the comprehensive zoning
- plan for the city, which names that site
- as a heavy industrial site.
- Further by curious coincidence, about two weeks or so ago,
- the Anacortes city council voted to adopt
- a resolution establishing an open space program for the city
- and for the acquisition of certain park areas.
- One of these was listed as Ship Harbor Shannon
- Point, which is the same area that I've just mentioned.
- Moreover, the city council voted to request federal funds
- to assist in the acquisition.
- So here you would have the curious situation
- of residential land being converted to heavy industry,
- heavy industrial land converted to park,
- and the federal government requested to finance
- both of these reversals.
- We asked, does it make sense?
- Mr. Nelson, you're a past president
- of the Association of Washington Industries, a retired treasurer
- of the Boeing company after 37 years,
- which makes you sort of pro-industry.
- Yet you're involved here in the fight
- to keep an industry off Guemes Island.
- How do you reconcile the two?
- Well, it's easy for me to reconcile this.
- As you said, I have spent a lot of time
- over the years trying to attract new industry to the state,
- and been fairly successful, both as a member
- of the Board of Governors or Directors of Seattle
- Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Washington
- But what of the islanders who have let options
- be taken on their property?
- This indicates that, at least some people on Guemes Island
- are not opposed.
- Certainly those people that option their property
- are real anxious that this plant come to the island
- so the options can be exercised.
- It happens to be a very small group,
- and we don't deny them their right
- to sell their property to anyone that they see fit.
- But we do think that we have a right
- to protect our island from industry,
- when we think this is a recreational and retirement
- What kind of reaction have you had from state government--
- from the governor's office?
- Really, no reaction except the governor
- knows that there is a real problem
- and I'm sure he's giving it all kinds of consideration.
- We are urging him to take a stand on this thing,
- because we think that the industry itself will recognize
- that a line has to be drawn somewhere
- where industry should go.
- And certainly, the San Juans is an ideal line to draw.
- Has Design for Washington taken any steps
- to try to do anything here?
- We asked, originally, for help from Design for Washington
- as one of the agencies that might help us with our problem.
- And they have indicated that they
- would like to have a conference of the interested parties.
- But as far as I know, nothing has come of it.
- And I gather in reading the local weekly paper
- that certainly the people in Anacortes, of course,
- are not interested in a Design for Washington discussion.
- Well, in my particular opinion, I
- would feel that discussion is good in many cases.
- I feel that this issue--
- on the other side at least-- is so ridden with emotion,
- that I don't feel that discussion
- at this time in a forum-type thing
- as proposed by Design for Washington Inc.
- would be advantageous to us.
- We are ready and willing, and always have been,
- to work with any group towards the orderly industrial growth,
- as well as other growth of the entire area.
- We still have the same feeling.
- But you can't work with groups when everybody
- is aroused emotionally.
- I feel that we have everything to lose and nothing
- to gain at the moment by going into this type of forum.
- At a later date, when things are quieted down to the point
- that everybody can talk rationally,
- I think it may be well worthwhile at that time
- if it's necessary then.