Community Treasures closure – Guest column

Community Treasures (CT) has lost its lease and will be moving, or closing down over the next 6 months, because the property is going up for sale. For those who want more details:

The Penwell Trust is terminating Community Treasures’ (CT) lease, and then the property business is going to be sold. CT will have to either move to a new location, or go out of business. That decision is up to the CT Board of Directors.

It is time to celebrate CT’s successes. CT’s conservation activities have provided money and materials to organizations and those in need for 12 years. I have modeled my beliefs with deeds and actions, and so have all those community- spirited people who have faithfully donated items to CT, a 501 C-3 Public Charity. CT has served well over 1000 customers, has given money to over 90 local nonprofit organizations, created local jobs, and was on target to recycle over 500 tons in 2016. We all should remember and celebrate those successes.

I have always been “frank” and called a spade a spade. This has not always served me well, but at 67 years old I am not about to change. I have fought the county since 1978 on our Roche Harbor Road property’s designation. Most recently, I have spent 12 years developing local boots on the ground conservation activities through CT, and during the last 5+ years CT has experienced numerous hassles and broken county promises that have cost thousands of dollars and caused personal pain and resentment. The CT site continues to be nonconforming, which by Ecology definition means, “undesirable and to be eliminated over time”. Despite an email promise from the county in March of 2012, to correct/change the property designation, in 2015 San Juan County CDP Staff continued to speak out against CT at a county council meeting, and very few citizens supported the CT Evolution proposal. CT has also not been properly designated as a formal Essential Public Facility site, despite yearly requests to the county to do so and to meet State WACs and RCWs.

In a final attempt to make headway, I ran for county council to see if the community would support having someone on the inside to work toward making a difference for CT and the other islands’ recycling facilities’ EPF needs. The election results, and my current birthday celebration this week in Hawaii have given me a couple of epiphanies. * I need to stop being Don Quixote and fighting the County. * I am not the right person to lead boots on the ground conservation activities for our community. * The best way to escape the battles, anxiety, financial costs, and headaches that being non-conforming causes is to sell the CT site. * It is also clear that my vision of useful recycling, reuse, and needed jobs for islanders that motivated my 12 years of volunteer service, and the financial donation of leasing the property to CT for $100 a month (which does not even pay for the property taxes), wasn’t embraced by the controlling and establishment cliques. * I believe in a hand up over a hand out, and what I am doing looks more like enablement. * I also should not be a hard working slave for the vision I had.

If anyone has a serious interest in buying the property on the Roche Harbor Road, the Penwell Trust is willing to carry owner financing. If interested, call me at (360) 378-6473.