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McNEIL ISLAND: Why not sell it?

Letter by Mike Hirko, Gig Harbor on March 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm with 28 Comments »
March 8, 2011 5:10 pm

With the prison now closed, why can’t the state sell all or part of the island to developers or whomever and use the proceeds to offset the state budget deficit?

With a bridge from the Key Peninsula to the island, it could become another Fox Island and increase the tax base for Pierce County for many decades to come.

Leave a comment Comments → 28
  1. hortonpeak says:

    Come on Mike, you can do better than this.

  2. nokoolaide says:

    Horton, for just once, could you open your mind and shut your cake hole? I think it is an idea worth considering……………

  3. hortonpeak says:

    Ok, who is going to build the bridge? Will it be tolled? The development market is in the toilet? Who benefits – the developers or we the taxpayer? Fox Island is an economic plus to Pierce County – like to see the data on that. How can selling the land to developers help offset the state budget problems at any meaningful level – it is called magnitude of numbers. You, sir, have the audacity to ask me to open my mind when I see nothing from you other than more bumper sticker answers to complex problems. Yes, the idea is worth considering but I expected a bit more analysis from Mike. As for you, I was expecting more but I guess it did not happen.

  4. Zillahboy says:

    Mike, A great idea, but it will never happen because it makes too much sense. Even without a bridge, if it could be dozed off and sold lot by lot on the private market, it would be a goldmine in the future.

  5. tommy98466 says:

    The first hurdle will be that the Indian tribes will have first crack at it. They will claim it was Indian land that was stolen from them. Then the feds will give it to them and then we will have another Casino in Pierce County. No benefit to the taxpayers again. The only benefit will be to the democrats that the Indians support who inturn donate to their campaigns. See the problem here folks? Pathetic.

  6. surething says:

    We should have left the prison open, keep danger on an island, not around my kids.

  7. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Actually, this idea is DOA. The Feds still own the island, they just “leased” a few parcels to WA DOC. Native Americans will get it, or it will just go unattended. Look for unauthorized use starting this summer by boaters.

  8. JudasEscargot says:

    Thanks for opening your cake hole, Horton

  9. Flanagan says:

    Great idea. Eliminate any and all signs of the prison, build a toll bridge from the lower peninsula ..develop the island into a livable community, and…. make sure there is no tribal involvement. We have heard enough about a culture that lived so wonderfully and successfully in total harmony with, and having a deep respect for their world and environment. Face it, all our ancestors came from that “wonderful” way of life. That was then, this is now. we are all in this together and should do all we can to avoid dividing groups in the name of sovereignty or multiculture.

  10. “Actually, this idea is DOA. The Feds still own the island, they just “leased” a few parcels to WA DOC. Native Americans will get it, or it will just go unattended. Look for unauthorized use starting this summer by boaters.”

    The state web site states differently. ]

    http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/micc/mcneilhistory.asp

    “In 1981, the state signed a lease with the federal government granting the state use of the penitentiary. Later that year the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) began moving inmates into the newly renamed McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC). Inmates were put to work fixing and improving the facility, which had not been maintained during the later years of federal operation. In 1984, the island was officially deeded to the state of Washington.”

    “…The balance of the island, 3,119 acres, was deeded to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for continuing use as a wildlife refuge.”

  11. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    OK, fatuous, that is what the website says. Thank you, I still doubt that that is a done deal, but the site says, yes it is. It remiains that DNR and the Native American tribes are in charge. This island will never be a park or commercial/residential development site. Like other DNR land it will be subject to uncontrolled use.

  12. Huh. I thought Steilacoomtaxpayer was right…

    I was still under the impression that the island is federal property and leased to the state.

  13. I don’t understand why they shut it down in the first place. It seems to me that it’s the only prison in the state without the “not in my backyard” problem. Escapes are relatively rare. I only live a few miles away and I’ve never been worried about escaped convicts hiding in my neighborhood.

    If they shut down a few other prisons around the state and increased capacity at McNeil Pierce County could have benefitted economically from housing thousands of people nobody wants anything to do with, without threatening the safety of nearby residents.

  14. spotted1 says:

    Yeah!! Another casino…on an island this time!!!! Shoot, they could probably even use the same facility for the casino…

  15. “I don’t understand why they shut it down in the first place.”

    It looks like it has always been too expensive to operate. According to this web site, Governor Dixy Lee Ray was opposed to it in the late ’70’s in part because of the expense.

    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5239

  16. surething says:

    Yeah, but I would rather pay higher taxes to keep dangerous people on an island rather than the mainland. Makes sense to me.

  17. Mike, are you by any chance involved in the real estate business? We need the prison, the gangster population is growing in this country, thanks to our open borders.

  18. BlaineCGarver says:

    I have never seen the numbers, but it seems like bad business to close a functional prison when capacity state-wide is overflowing.

  19. Blaine — That’s what I thought. It’s already built, and the bulk of the cost of the ferry is overhead. Adding more ferry runs for twice as many employees and supplies wouln’t cost twice as much.

  20. JudasEscargot says:

    No wonder we have a Democratic majority in the State of Washington. If the GOP ran this state, we’d be truly bankrupt in a heartbeat.

    People actually are so superficial they think that because the building is built, the only “overhead” is a ferrry. LOL

    Let’s see, we got employees, utilities, upkeep on the facilities – interior and exterior – food, water, sewer…… That’s just off the top of my head.

    Oh…wait….I know!!! Privatize it!!! Let’s have private prisons that can charge the State for every inmate. We can have minimum wage workers and the Koch Brothers can make a profit.

  21. JudasEscargot says:

    BlaineCGarver says:
    March 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    I have never seen the numbers, but it seems like bad business to close a functional prison when capacity state-wide is overflowing.

    Uh….tax revenue is down. People are not spending. Unemployment is causing a lack of spending and people complain about tax increases for the wealthy because they are going to get jobs when the wealthy don’t pay taxes.

    Thanks for your perfect example of “I want services but don’t want to pay taxes”

  22. J_E — “the bulk of the cost of the ferry is overhead.” How did you get that the ferry is the only overhead out of that? Grumpy old fart.

  23. How about turning it into the world’s largest paint ball complex.
    Leave all the buildings as it and just let teams of warrior wannabees go at it.
    I bet scores of guys from the base would jump at the opportunity.

  24. JudasEscargot says:

    IQ – finally. Someone with a rational idea

  25. JudasEscargot says:

    ronnie – how about not changing the context of your phrase when getting called on your ignorance?

    “That’s what I thought. It’s already built, and the bulk of the cost of the ferry is overhead.”

    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2011/03/08/mcneil-island-to-be-sold/#ixzz1GDGGeZJI

    Now what? “The bulk of the cost of the ferry is overhead because the ferry is built”?

  26. donjames says:

    steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    “OK, fatuous, that is what the website says. Thank you, I still doubt that that is a done deal, but the site says, yes it is.”

    Actually, the last quote that fatuous cited – regarding Fish and Wildlife – is very telling. Here is the same info – different source:

    In 1984, the island was officially deeded to the state of Washington.

    A new deed to McNeil was issued in 1996, from the Department of Justice. Building restrictions were lifted to permit the construction of the new Work Ethic Camp facility. All other original deed covenants continued, i.e., maintaining the federal graveyard, public access limitations, protection of wildlife, etc.

    http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/micc/mcneilhistory.asp

    Looks to me like this particular deed holder, the State of WA, would forfeit title to the feds if they tried to sell it to developers.

    Not that these stipulations and covenants could not be negotiated out of existence. But does anyone seriously believe that either the 0bama or Gregoire administrations would even be willing to listen to that proposal? (And we won’t even bring up this state’s disproportionally powerful anti-development-of-any-sort environmental lobby.)

  27. Judas — No. It was a compound sentence with two different subjects, lumped together because they were both arguments for the same thing. I’ll split it up for you, and try to remember in the future that two ideas at once are a little too much for you.

    It’s already built. (Meaning, of course, that instead of adding buildings to other facilities, why don’t we use one we already have.) The bulk of the cost of the ferry is overhead. (Meaning, of course, that to double the number of runs would not double the cost of the ferry because the overhead doesn’t change much no matter how many runs you make.)

    NOW is it clear?

  28. I can’t believe no one has suggested selling it to the Point Ruston developer.

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