Here we go again. Mayor Vini Samuel is pushing forward with this rest area, come hell or high water. I attended the Jan. 10 city council meeting and learned more about the proposed project. Several citizens expressed concerns regarding the project, but the Mayor appeared undeterred. So, here is my take on this proposal.
Absolute, unadulterated, disaster in the making.
According to the mayor, this project will be primarily funded by the State. She is currently twisting some state-level elected officials’ arms and is confident the money will be forthcoming. The numbers that were thrown around was somewhere around $1.8 to $2.8 million, depending on various factors. Councilman Dan Wood asked if council needed to make a motion to support the project in order for her to continue to promote this project. She said “no,” she planned to pursue this on her own and did not need council approval. She would only need them to approve it once she got everything in place. A bit cavalier, wouldn’t you say? I’m confused — is she our mayor or is she a self-appointed Monarch?
Now keep in mind, even if the rest area is paid for with state monies, the City of Montesano is responsible to maintain it. When asked about the estimated maintenance costs, Mayor Samuel used the figure of $50,000. (The rest area at Elma spent a total of $565,419 on maintenance fees over the past 3 years, or an average of $188,473 annually.) I have no idea how the $50,000 figure was computed, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is accurate. The primary purpose for this rest area is to get people off the freeway and into town so they will stop and buy things. (Sound familiar? Wi-Fi all over again.) Now, the city gets about 3 cents for every dollar spent so it will take more than $1.6 million in new revenue just to pay the maintenance on the rest area. (Please keep in mind these numbers are an estimate and may vary.) Either way, we are talking huge numbers. Make sense? I didn’t think so.
This notion of getting the cars off the freeway and into town was the same strategy to promote the now famous Wi-Fi project. There are no guarantees that cars paraded through town are going to stop and shop. What are they going to buy? If they need gas or are hungry, they would stop anyway. Same goes for groceries or fishing licenses. The only thing you can guarantee by getting cars off the freeway and into town is more traffic.
People, you need to speak up and be heard. The Wi-Fi project is marginal, at best, and will cost us all some money in the near future, but it pales in comparison to this rest area.
Don’t allow this lunacy to continue. Contact your city council members or show up at a council meeting and stop this now, before it’s too late.