Dear residents and voters of Forks,
I have reason to believe what happened to us is the reason for discussions regarding commerce and the sewer system. I feel that due to the continued discussion regarding this situation, I should clear up any question as to what happened and why it is such an issue.
We moved to Forks about three years ago. We fell in love with the community and of course, the nature wonderland surrounding us. As we attended the Chamber of Commerce meetings, it became obvious that more business was needed within the city to provide jobs and variety to the community. I am a general commercial contractor with a real estate development background and Gayle has more than 40 years of experience in the operation of a restaurant and coffee shop, so we got an idea. That idea was called “Local Perks”.
I won’t bore you with the intricate details of the business plan, but I would like to spell out the highlights.
The business would be a coffee lounge where people could go to meet with friends, socialize and get a great cup of coffee and enjoy a light meal. We planned a game room and a small library of reading material, the strongest Wi-Fi available and many outlets for computers to plug in. The menu was to include a collection of comfort foods, box lunches and a variety of specialty coffee drinks. Think of a Starbucks, but more of a local flare. Beer and wine would be served in the evening hours. The exterior design was to be a tribute to the loggers that have made this area famous and prosperous. We would be hiring in the beginning a minimum of 6 employees at a better-than-minimum-wage salary and expanding as needed. We would be committed to donating 50% of our profits directly to local charities. All the local charity would have to do is demonstrate to us their legitimacy and licensing and they would be included on our list. We would encourage local artists to display their works on our walls for sale, and eventually host live entertainment events for local performers. Additionally, we have connections with groups to increase Forks as a destination town, The Harley Owners Group and the Model T Club of America, to name a couple. As you can see, the name “Local Perks” was selected because of the benefits to the community this establishment would bring.
The building we chose to purchase was the old real estate building located at 341 N. Forks Ave., directly adjacent to the Napa auto parts store. This building was chosen due to price, but more importantly, its location. Only trouble was, the building needed to be connected to the city sewer system to comply with health department requirements, which it was not. It should be noted that the city sewer district line runs up the street on which the building is situated. We applied to the City of Forks for a Building permit which was granted. I requested connection to the sewer system that was immediately adjacent to the building, which was also granted. We knew it would be at our expense and had proceeded with getting quotes from local construction vendors. We then proceeded to consummate the purchase of the building, apply for business and liquor licenses, and start preparing for purchases of equipment and furnishings.
This is where it got messy. In the letter granting permission from the city official, it clearly states “After a review of the City’s Comprehensive Sewer/Wastewater Facility Plan, and consultation with the City’s Waste Water Facility Manager, we believe that our wastewater capacity levels would allow your proposed business at 341 N Forks Avenue to connect to this system thereby expanding the sewer district.” Two weeks later, that same city official and that same Waste Water Facility Manager met with us and told us that the sewer system was currently exceeding its capacity and therefore would not allow our connection, a complete turnaround on their previous decision. They further stated that they were not willing to connect our business, which would have the equivalent sewer discharge as a 3 bedroom house because sometime in the future, someone might want to build a 50 room hotel and our wastewater would impede their ability to connect. They agreed that slightly less than 50% of the buildings that were connected to the system were vacant and not producing any sewage.
I am sure legal scholars would agree that we have grounds to bring suit against the City of Forks, based on the rescinded decision to no fault of our own, the lost revenues from three months of time and expense, and the lost revenues. To date, we have not chosen to do so.
I would like to ask Mr. Fletcher a few questions. During your meet and greet at the VFW building, you stated a couple of points that I took particular notice of. On statement was that you “did not feel that the Employees of the city needed oversight, that if they did not do their job effectively, well then – Next!” What would you do in this situation? The second statement you said is that you “Feel that the job of Mayor could be done in a couple of hours per week, either after hours from your current job or possibly during your extensive PTO time. How do you think this type of situation or any other city business could be caught with such limited oversight? Leading this city out of a situation of impending insolvency will be more than a part-time hobby. The third statement you made was your response to my question: “You speak of bringing in more business to the city. What are some of your ideas?” Your reply was “I don’t know, whatever the people in town suggest.”
My thoughts are, a city that has lost such a huge part of their employment base would, and should, do anything they can to improve the job base, the city income base, and the overall tourist draw to this fine community. I believe, the reversal in the approval of our establishment was all the wrong decisions, especially when based on “Somebody in the next couple of years might want to build a 50 room hotel”.
My opinion; Ken Ayers is far more suited to be our Mayor than Mr. Fletcher. He has the time to spend helping this fine town, he has the management experience to take the lead, and he has his own ideas on how to improve this community for the benefit of all.