The Port of Olympia’s announcement to purchase property in Lacey is another in a long-line of major missteps taken by Port leadership. The purpose of a port district is to ensure goods/people and their needed services move in/out and around the county freely and cost effectively. Economic development is a secondary role assumed by the Port of Olympia. Each of these professed duties should be expressed in a strategic plan.
The Port’s property purchase desires in Lacey does not meet the above criteria. Specifically, purchasing an occupied building does not create new business nor does it build infrastructure. Quite simply, the purchase transfers taxpayer wealth from the Port to the building’s current owner. Additionally, the purchase does not improve transportation of goods or people nor does it improve existing transportation infrastructure. Finally, the Port spent months developing its Strategic Plan 2013-2025 that says nothing about spending large sums of money purchasing land in Lacey or anywhere else in the county.
The Port of Olympia’s leadership has long sought good relations with the community and decision making transparency. Both concepts require Port leaders to make decisions consistent with professed plans and their basic state charter. Perhaps some day the Port Commission will achieve these relationship and transparency goals. However, the Lacey land purchase decision simply continues the long-term trend of flawed decisions that are inconsistent with prior stated positions. Until the Port makes long range plans and sticks to them, decision-making missteps will continue and county taxpayer money will be wasted.