In November, the rail line leading out of the Port of Olympia was blockaded in protest against the movement of fracking sands through downtown. On Nov. 18 the protesters were forcibly removed by a combination of City Police, County Sheriffs and rail line guards.
One of the consequences of the decision to remove the protesters, is the cost. Though little reported, it is revealing to learn that the City of Olympia spent over $25,000 to provide police for the action that removed protesters. The County Sheriff’s office spent around $5,000. Those dollars came from budgets already strained with the routine activities. Those dollars come from our taxes. How does this extra expense compare to the money made for the fracking sands transport deal the Port made? Was it worth it for the port marine terminal’s bottom line?
Budget information reveals that the net profit for the Port from moving fracking sands in 2016 was at best around $10,000. Thus, the disruption in downtown caused by the port’s activities is a net loss to the community, financially. But what about the intangibles?
The businesses in downtown Olympia work to preserve and build on their successes and to promote the image of a steady and vibrant community. The disruptions caused by the port’s actions hurt downtown.
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The port marine terminal does not exist in a vacuum; it works only if its activities are aligned with the interests of the rest of the community. Two Port Commissioners don’t understand this reality.