The weekly public affairs forum put on by the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce lost its speaker to Olympia politics. But it wasn’t so much the loss of a speaker as a unique chance to hear about the city from two men instrumental in it’s changes.
City Administrator Denny Richards and Mayor Chuck Hunter stepped in as guest speakers at the forum held at Cottesmore of Life Care. The original speaker, State House majority leader Pat Sullivan, was unable to attend due to the special session in Olympia. Hunter and Richards shared the projects that had sprung up around the city in 2013 and over the course of Hunter’s time as mayor.
“We’ve done a lot in the last eight years... and it isn’t because of me,” Hunter said. “It’s because we’ve had a heck of a crew.”
Richards and Hunter provided a two-person act that went over the work done recently in Gig Harbor — specifically parks projects and the downtown waterfront. Richards commended Hunter on his commitment to preserving Gig Harbor’s maritime heritage.
Hunter spoke about his commitment to preserving space for public use. His examples were the Skansie Brothers, Ancich, Eddon Boat and Crescent Creek parks. Ancich Park was the subject of an open house at City Hall recently. Before becoming a city park, the land was going to be a condominiums and a marina. Similarly, Eddon Boat Park was private land that the city was able to aquire once the site ran into financial difficulties for the owner and a citizen petition to create an open space, Hunter said.
Richards was showed off pictures of the new chainsaw wood carving in Crescent Creek Park. The carving is protected by security cameras, he said. In addition to the carving, the park will soon have a new playtoy thanks to the local fundraising.
The recently opened Donkey Creek Park was another jewel in the city that Richards and Hunter shared. Hunter said it was his biggest project. Photos of the opening event showed the tribal dancers, music and special guests at the park on a cold, cloudy day — including Hunter sitting near the podium. He was cold, he joked, “and it was an aluminum chair.”
All the projects, in the view of Hunter and Richards, are the result of a hardworking staff. Something Hunter called a blessing.
“No matter what task I gave them, they did it,” Hunter said. He also said the work was completed thanks to a council and staff that made good budgetary decisions.
Richards said he felt fortunate to come work for the city because Gig Harbor has a great reputation and a “solid foundation of employees.” In the last two years, he said, four employees have been promoted to department heads. He enjoys working for a city that cultivates talent and promotes from within.
As to what is coming up soon for the city, Richards and Hunter spoke about the Shoreline Master Plan, which is mandated by the state. Holding up the thick document, Richards said it “puts the Sears-Roebuck catalog to shame.” The council will be discussing the master plan at its Nov. 12 meeting.
At the end of the presentation, Terry Lee of PenMet Parks thanked Hunter for “the livable community that (he) created.” He called the presentation a celebration of Hunter’s time as mayor.Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.