You know, it really does make you wonder. Given all the factors involved - especially the depressed economy of Port Angeles and the shrinking number of tourists actually visiting Port Angeles, along with the reduced number of ferry trips from Port Angeles to Victoria - why, why would anyone think it was a good idea to build a new, four-story hotel downtown? As has been pointed out elsewhere, for the vast majority of the year, the existing (and admittedly shitty) hotels in town struggle to stay above 50% occupancy rates. So what would compel anyone to want to "invest" in such a seemingly senseless venture?
It makes you wonder.
Very much related to that, can downtown Port Angeles really support two new restaurants? Really? Owing to the expected influx of people...Who will be working at the two new restaurants? I mean, where will the customers come from for these proposed new rooms and restaurants? A new hotel isn't a tourist draw, so doesn't it seem likely that these new places will, at best, just cannibalize customers from existing places? That seems the most likely outcome to me.
Which might make you wonder...Why?
As for the "need" for more parking downtown...Oh, please! A three level parking garage? What, has Larry Williams suddenly discovered he's a member of the Elwha and returned to Port Angeles?
Now, mind you, if this was the Jamestown folks, I might - might - have a slightly different view of this. They have a track record of success, and a legitimately marketable "brand" to potentially lure in the punters. But the Elwha? Uh...Not quite. Every time I ever went out to their casino, I saw the same soggy mattresses in the same shabby yards lining the route in. And once you got there, the muddy parking lot was more potholes than not. It was cheap, tacky and awful, which, the wags among you might say, makes them ideal candidates for downtown Port Angeles. (And admittedly, if they can build a three-story mud parking structure, complete with potholes, that might be something to see.)
Oh, and remember, tribal members will have preference for employment at the new places, so this can't even be pitched as a "jobs" idea, really. Other than the jobs that absolutely will be displaced (and possibly eliminated) due to the disruptive nature of this project. So why is the City seemingly so gung-ho for this?
And why is the tribe so gung-ho for the Niichel property? After all, it's got a million dollar balloon payment on it coming due, and...
Wait...a...minute. Oh, it all comes together now. Even the bits that don't make sense, kind of make sense if...
Now, when I was there, everyone in City Hall was positively paranoid about the Elwha getting more of a (tax-free!) toehold in Port Angeles. There were endless conniptions and lots of handwringing over their tribal cultural center when it went in. There was lots (and I do mean lots) of worried talk about ever more of the town being "taken over" (tax-free!) by the Elwha. Sure, it was racist and tacky, but...It is Port Angeles we're talking about.
And, as we all know, Port Angeles doesn't have a million dollars for that upcoming balloon payment. Again, when I was there, the fund created for that payment was actually being drained by the City, rather than added to, such was their excellent and forward-thinking financial planning.
So the City was in a pickle. And not the kind you could get out of with a million pickleball paddles, either. No, it would have to be a million dollars. Which, again, they don't have.
Thus, enter the Elwha. They do indeed get a further toehold (tax-free!) in the City, and the City gets off the hook (they hope) for a million dollars. The Elwha get to launder, er, I mean invest their money in a huge project, one that will likely disrupt and destroy existing jobs, while creating more jobs (tax-free!) for tribal members. Existing downtown businesses may well be harmed, the City will lose tax dollars (get familiar with the phrase "held in trust"), and yet, officially, the City has to smile and take it, and pretend to be excited for a project that exploits their existing financial hardship, while also creating future ones.
But in the meantime, smile, Mayor Downie! Smile, Cherie! You just got rolled (again), you just got played (again), and you have to eat shit and smile, smile, smile. All these hits to your tax revenue are "tomorrow problems," right? So, smiles everyone, smiles! Because it turns out, once again, that Port Angeles is Fantasy Island.
We just need to get Pat Downie a nice, white suit...