What Should The State Do With McNeil Island?

You can learn about its plans Tuesday at an open house at the Environmental Services Building.

  • WHAT: Open house for long-range planning process on McNeil Island
  • WHEN: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday
  • WHERE: , East and West Buildings, Chambers Creek Properties

The Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) to prepare a report to use to initiate a comprehensive, long-range planning process for the future of McNeil Island during the 2013-15 Biennium. The report is due to the Governor and Legislature by October 1, 2012. Attached is an overview of the project underway to complete the report.

One of the report components is a summary of consultation with interested parties. OFM and its consultant team, BERK, are hosting two open houses in late August that are open to all. The open houses are designed to provide more information about the project underway and gather thoughts on planning for the Island’s future.

Brent Champaco August 23, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I really think there some huge opportunities as far as historical, cultural and tourism opportunities with this? Can you imagine the draw this could bring during the 2015 U.S. Open?
Ken Campbell August 23, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Vacation destination for the City of Chambers Bay...I like it...`Say WA!'
Brent Champaco August 24, 2012 at 01:12 AM
@ken Nice. Do you think we could make McNeil Island its own independent government, like The Vatican?
Howard and Barbara Lee August 24, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Commercializing McNeil Island is a great idea, but by the private not public sector. The McMenamin brothers based in Portland, Or, have been extremely successful in renovating old, vacant historic buildings and turning them into micro brewries with lodging and entertainment. They refubished a poor farm in Troutdale and called it Edgefield. They did the same to a Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Forrest Grove and called it the Grand Lodge. They are currently turning the delapidated and vacant Tacoma Elks bulding into one of their signature micro brew hotels and restaurants. If they saw Mc Neil Island as a viable investment I am sure they could make it a success. Now why won' t they move into the UP Town Center? That's easy, it's undeveloped so there's nothing to renovate. Howard
Brent Champaco August 24, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Great idea, Howard. What do you think is the best and most profitable option for a developer, like the McMenamins, if they did want to refurbish McNeil?
Dave Matzen August 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I lnow of a group that is proposing to have the state donate the land for a boy scout, girl scout and/or camp fire camping area. I like the idea if there was available money you build such a facility. Personally I would like to see it turned into a State Park like Blake Island, but with ferry service.
Howard and Barbara Lee August 24, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Guess you could market it as a secure getaway! Actually, all of McMenamins feature live music and movies. Several of their establishments are on large properties with walking trails, gardens, and a stage for large outdoor concerts. McNeil Island has the space with abundant wild life, fishing, and enough room for a nine hole golf course. Mackinac Island located between Upper Michigan and Lower Michigan is a car free resort with horse drawn carriages and bicycles for transportation. Perfect for McNeil Island! Park your car in Steilacoom and take the pedestrian ferry to the island. The McMenamins would probably be able to make staying in a prison appealing if not exciting, and a once in a lifetime adventure for most of us. Howard
Dan August 24, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Some ideas for some new McMenamins beer, to be made there. Birdman Brew (The Birdman stayed there fiirst) Manson Malt (For that famous Charlie that stayed there) No Escape Ale Island of Misfit Lager Any others ideas???
Brent Champaco August 24, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Nice, Dan! I don't know many of the personalities who've gone through there, but I had a cousin who was a guard there. So in his honor, I offer: Prison guard porter Give me a few more minutes and I'll come up more :)
Ann Burkly August 28, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Lol, love the beer puns! Seriously though, McNeil is owned by the Federal Government and is leased to the state as long as it serves as a prison. Fish & Wildlife controls 70% of the island as a wildlife & marine sanctuary, but millions of dollars in recently renovated facilities are going to waste out there. McNeil was totally updated to earn a 2010 National A+ rating by the American Correctional Association. In 2009 the Ferry Slip was redone for $1.65 million. Feasible, economically sound State uses for McNeil should utilize the $19 million in improvements there since the MICC closed in 2011. Hard to believe, but post-closing in 2011-2012, thanks to taxpayer dollars, McNeil got: a new sewer system, new fiber optics and newly paved roads. That's besides all the infrastructure, such as historic sites that have been there since the 1880s, or the inmate built homes based upon the designs of the Architectural firm, "Heath, Gove & Bell." Also two cell blocks were built in 1995 and the 2005 Special Commitment Camp cost $346 million, including $63k for a mural and $109k for a cement planter. These new facilities should be used constructively to benefit the state taxpayer. Transitory housing for the mentally-ill or first time non-violent offenders, who could learn trades through workfare on McNeil while rehabilitating would solve a lot of societal problems, lower unemployment, revive the local economy and keep McNeil protected and environmentally pristine - a win-win-win!
R August 28, 2012 at 04:18 AM
how bout putting all the SEX offenders there! and let them fend for themselves!! No help from the outside, oh yeah might be helpful if you put a 20ft wall and a mote around the wall and put alligators in it :) just saying way better use of tax payers $$ than turning into some country club for golfers!!
Ann Burkly August 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM
A Predator Island is a great idea! WA state is 1200 short on inmate housing, and will be paying to put cons elsewhere in 2013, and 1200 is the exact number of beds lost when they shut McNeil, despite all 2009 OFM/Consultant recommendations to the contrary. Constructively using McNeil as a Predator Island will bring in $$$. Instead of us paying other states to house inmates, WA could take in $$$ by housing our and other states' sex offenders on McNeil! That would be a proactive and efficient use of the expensive facilities there and a way to keep McNeil in State hands without it reverting back to the Federal Government and the state losing all the $$$ WA taxpayers have sunk into it! Maybe a reality show could be based there, periodically sex offenders could be loosed on island, while the others searched for them.... Survival: Predator Island!
Maryjane MacDonald August 28, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I don't think the island should become available to the private sector. I like the idea of it becoming a camp ground (state run),and not limiting it to a boy or girl scout camp site. The Special Commitment Center has cost the state tons of money to build and maintain. If it were to move to the mainland, there would be an uproar....and a new facility would have to be found or built. I don't think it could remain on the island if campgrounds were developed. The bottom line for me is that it remain a pristine non commercially ravaged island.


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