Dear Fellow Fox Island Resident,
This site has been created by a group of concerned Fox Island residents, some who have lived on this island for as long as 40 years. We love this beautiful community, as we know you do, too!
Over the past several months, it has come to the attention of HUNDREDS of Fox Island residents that two valuable, much-loved properties on our island,—the DeMolay Sandspit and Nature Preserve (sometimes affectionately called “Bella Bella Beach”) and the Fishing Pier—are being egregiously NEGLECTED by their current owner, Peninsula Metropolitan Park District (PenMet). The most recent indicator of this NEGLECT is PenMet’s decision to terminate the Park Host Program. Almost 500 concerned residents recently signed a petition demonstrating their concern over this decision, all of whom were completely ignored. Interestingly, and as PenMet was warned, shortly after the Park Host Program was terminated, there was an act of vandalism at the Fishing Pier. Neighbors have already seen an increase in night time traffic and noise.
PenMet Property Tax Levies Have More Than Doubled Since 2016!
We, the residents of Fox Island, in 2021 and 2022 have paid and will shortly pay approximately ONE MILLION DOLLARS EACH YEAR on PenMet levies on our homes. In addition, PenMet had a voter-approved “levy lid lift” put in place for 6 years starting in 2018 and ending in 2023. PenMet is already discussing asking the voters to once again approve yet another “levy lid lift” so they can continue in their plan to increase those levies.
What are Fox Island residents getting for the taxes we pay to PenMet?
Very little… Neglect, lack of communication, shoddy maintenance, no investment in Fox Island parks, and tax levies with little advance notice. Here are some examples.
- Deteriorating Sandspit buildings have been in a state of decline since PenMet purchased the property in 2010 and only this year, or 12 years later, has PenMet budgeted any significant amount for and actually scheduled any activity to address any demolition or remodeling.
- Significant Environmental Impact leading to degradation of the Sandspit shoreline.
- Termination of the Park Host Program, as stated above, without consultation with any Fox Island residents and, despite numerous requests, without any adequate justification for that decision.
- Evidence of ongoing misuse of the Sandspit with PenMet allowing driftwood to be moved to create unsafe structures as well as evidence of burning driftwood, both prohibited by the Sandspit Park Rules.
- Multiple duct tape repairs to the handrails at the Fishing Pier which are both unsightly and, even more important, unsafe.
- A failing handrail post repair usinga makeshift wood post attached to the failing metal pipe post with hose clamps—also unsightly and unsafe.
- A failure to properly repair a cracked pressurized PVC water pipe at the Fishing Pier that was wasting valuable water. Who reported this issue? We did. We were then told the problem had been fixed. What was the fix? They turned the water off. It was another two or three months before PenMet actually replaced the broken pipe.
- Unsightly bathroom doors at the Fishing Pier which PenMet only recently repainted, but only after we had brought PenMet’s neglect to their attention.
Deteriorating Sandspit buildings lie in disrepair without any firm date for demolition or remodeling after more than a DECADE of PenMet ownership
Evidence of ongoing misuse of the Sandspit with PenMet with driftwood being burned, and moved to create unsafe structures (both prohibited by the Sandspit park rules)
Multiple duct tape repairs to the handrails at the Fishing Pier
A failing handrail post repair using a makeshift wood post attached to the failing metal pipe post with hose clamps
A failure to properly repair a cracked pressurized PVC water pipe at the Fishing Pier that was wasting valuable water after being told the problem had been fixed. What was the fix? They turned the water off and left the PVC pipe still with at least two major cracks and one area where two pipes are completely disconnected.
We invite you to visit your Fishing Pier Park and the DeMolay Sandspit to see yourself. Below are before and after photos of the bathrooms at the Fishing Pier Park. Months after complaining multiple times, they finally painted the doors.
Health Risks for Children Using PenMet Facilities (not just on Fox Island):
• Black mold
• Empty whiskey bottles
• Beer in the refrigerator
• Rat infestations
• Bat infestations
• Inoperable bathroom lights
• Insufficient HVAC equipment
• Lack of security of personal contact information for children using PenMet facilities
• Inappropriate contact by PenMet employees/volunteers leaving children in their car
Fellow Fox Islanders, we are concerned for the long-term future of the Fox Island PenMet Parks! This is our home, and these parks are integral to the long-term success and well-being of our island community. We have paid literally millions of our dollars over the years with little to show for our “investment.”
In contrast, the properties currently being maintained by Fox Island organizations — including the Nichols Community Center, the Nature Center, and the Chapel at Echo Bay—all display high qualities of management and care with ZERO TAX DOLLARS!
We have repeatedly asked for a meeting with the PenMet Board to discuss these matters only to have ALL of our requests totally ignored. In addition, we have repeatedly asked PenMet for more information on various topics only to be told to file Public Record Requests (“PRR”). Following their instructions, some of us have filed several PRR’s only to be told it could take months to get the information to us.
We’ve asked the PenMet Board to pass a resolution taking Fox Island out of the existing PenMet Park District only to be told they would not do so. Absent that resolution, which would also need to be approved by the Pierce County Council, there are no other amicable options available to us.
PenMet is Not the Only Tax Authority Coming After Us
And, keep this in mind: In addition to the millions pouring out our doors (with little, if any, return) to PenMet Parks (which equates to about a $500 average annual levy on our homes), we are being advised by Pierce County to be prepared for a huge additional tax burden coming from the costs of the new Fox Island Bridge! That new levy is, according to Pierce County, expected to be, on average, another $350 and may be coupled with a $8.50 one-way toll! We need to be in control of our financial future.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We are now going before the Pierce County Boundary Review Board (“BRB”) which has the authority to redraw the boundaries of PenMet’s existing Park District by removing Fox Island from that district without PenMet’s approval. We need the signatures of 5% of the registered voters on Fox Island (about 200 people) to gain access to the BRB. Please support us!
Our goal is to get Fox Island removed from the PenMet Park District so we can explore the possibility of creating our own Fox Island Metropolitan Park District. Another option might be to have the FICRA Trust take over ownership and management of the three properties to the same level as the Trust has done with the Nichols Community Center. We would certainly seek input from all of those living on Fox Island before making any decisions.
If we were to establish our own Fox Island Metropolitan Park District, we would take steps to make sure that entity cannot govern in the same manner as PenMet has done. Those steps include:
- ALL levies must be voter approved and not just those exceeding a certain dollar limit—in other words no levies without voter approval
- The Board will meet with any person or group upon the written request of a number (to be determined) of Fox Island residents—communication, as we’ve learned, is critical
- Any commissioner can be removed at any time by a vote of those living on Fox Island without the necessity of a costly special election—makes the Commissioners more accountable to those living on Fox Island
- Full disclosure is a requirement and any and all documents requested will be delivered or made available without the necessity of a Public Record Request—any taxing power should have full transparency
- Allowing Fox Island residents to participate in advisory votes on any major issue with “major” to be defined (e.g., buying, selling, or improving property or establishing or modifying the Park Host program)—everyone will have a voice and an opportunity to be heard beyond just 3 minutes at the podium in front of a Board that is totally ignoring them
Please note, PenMet has none of these protections in place.
Please add your name to our list of supporters. We will then contact you to get your signature on our petition to get before the BRB. Join your neighbors in exploring the process of withdrawing Fox Island from the PenMet Park District and possibly forming our own Fox Island Park District. We are certain we can maintain (and actually improve) the Fishing Pier and the DeMolay Sandspit far better than PenMet and for much less than the ONE MILLION DOLLARS PenMet is currently taking from us on an annual basis.
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue that affects all of us on Fox Island. Please look forward to future communications as we navigate the process of bringing home our park service!
Your Fox Island Neighbors