The ongoing controversy over the efforts by the Washington Military Department to move Camp Murray’s main gate deeper into the Tillicum neighborhood was voted the top news story of the year in West Pierce County.
Although I was hoping to see a lot more votes, the Camp Murray gate story was voted tops by an overwhelming margin.
David Anderson, president of the Tillicum-Woodbrook Neighborhood Association, had put out a request for residents in the neighborhood and others to cast their votes for the story.
The extension of sanitary sewer into Tillicum and Woodbrook took the No. 2 spot.
Efforts to relieve congestion on I-5 through Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the closure of the McNeil Island prison and the proposal to reroute Amtrak passenger trains through Lakewood and other communities tied for third, with a vote apiece.
More information about these stories and the vote tallies are listed below:
1. Controversy over proposed move of Camp Murray gate (25 votes)
Lakewood’s Tillicum neighborhood was none to happy to learn that the proposal, which appeared to die last year, moved forward in 2011. A neighborhood group has appealed the permit the city issued to complete the project even while Camp Murray has started construction. The hearing of the appeal is slated for early next year.
2. Lakewood completes sewer extension to Tillicum, Woodbrook neighborhoods (4 votes)
The city’s two poorest neighborhoods can or soon will be able to connect to sanitary sewer after a lengthy, $18 million project draws to a close. How many residents actually hook up remains to be seen. Lakewood changed its connection policy to mandatory from voluntary due to a lack of interest from property owners. It also had to negotiate with Pierce County and spend additional money to begin hookups to the system under low-flow conditions.
3. I-5 congestion through Joint Lewis-McChord garners attention, funding (1 vote)
The traffic may be stop and go, but funding is flowing much easier after ongoing congestion on the vital freight and commuter route drew the attention of politicians. Lakewood received $5.7 million to make improvements to the overpass serving Madigan Army Medical Center. The Washington State Department of Transportation recently was awarded $15 million to pay for other improvement along the corridor. These investments are strictly Band-Aids until the hundreds of millions of dollars can be secured to pay for a permanent fix.
3. Closure of McNeil Island prison (1 vote)
State closed island prison that was in operation for 135 years in April to save money. More information here.
3. Proposal to reroute Amtrak passenger trains through Lakewood, other Pierce County communities moving along. (1 vote)
The proposed Point Defiance Bypass is deep in environmental review and this story is sure to heat up in 2012. Major developments this year include the state narrowing the scope of the environmental review and an effort to get an city initiative on the ballot to try and stop the trains from running through Lakewood.
Happy new year everyone, and I look forward to covering the major events in West Pierce County in 2012.