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The mayor the town of Eatonville has helped return the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad to operation, potentially as early as this year!


The following was posted to the mayor's blog on Facebook:

David Baublits, Eatonville Mayor

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Mayor's first blog. I know this is long but I hope you find it informative and interesting.
The first few months of being Mayor have been very interesting as well as challenging. Here is a list of some of the things we have managed to accomplish:
1) Hired Seth Boettcher as our full time Town Administrator. Seth has extensive knowledge of public works issues and is the first true “public works” employee the town has had in over 20 years.
2) Hired Zachary Shields as our full-time planner. Zach has extensive planning experience and is the first full time planner we have had in many years.
3) On behalf of the re-established Western Industrial Forestry Museum, negotiated the transfer of the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad back to WFIM. This is a non-profit organization not owned by the Town of Eatonville. However, one of its main missions will be to bring more tourists to Eatonville, thereby improving the town’s financial position. All terms are finalized and the deal should close in June of this year.
a. Developed a five-phase implementation plan for the train to include restarting the Elbe to Mineral runs, fixing the tracks and trestles into Eatonville, building a loading platform and maintenance facility down by the gun club, building a train depot and train/logging/native American museum along Center Street East and building a train depot and museum at Park Junction.
b. Negotiated potential purchase of property on Center Street for depot and museum(s).
c. Assigned Board of Director members for non-profit LLC.
4) Motivated visits from the following political individuals who can assist us as we seek to generate funds for the many projects that need to be addressed in town:
a. State Representative Kim Schrier -2nd District
b. State Representative Andrew Barkis – 2nd District
c. State Representative JT Wilcox – 2nd District
d. Pierce County Council member Amy Cruver – 3rd District
e. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammieir
f. Puget Sound Regional Council Director Josh Brown
g. Pierce County Director of Economic Development Betty Capistany
h. Natural Resource Director Nisqually Tribal Council David Troutt
i. Director Nisqually Tribe Foundation Justin Hall
j. Director Nisqually Tribe Land Trust Jeanette Dorner
k. Mt Rainier National Park Supervisor Greg Dudgeon
5) Teamed up with the Adams family to generate needed synergies to motivate completion of the Park Junction resort.
6) Started the update of the Town’s Capital Improvement projects list.
7) Moved the town’s court services from Bonney Lake to Pierce County resulting in significant annual savings.
Hired Police Chief LaLiberte as a full-time town employee resulting in significant annual savings (he was a Pierce County employee).
9) Gained approval from the town council to proceed with the SR161 upgrade (Washington Avenue) and are ready to send out bid requests. This project has been on the books since 2013.
10) Worked with The Weyerhaeuser Company and the Dept of Ecology to start the cleanup of the Eatonville dump site (an $8,000,000 plus project) with nearly full funding via state grants thanks to wide state support and previous administration leadership.
11) Reinstated the airport commission and will shortly be submitting a much needed grant application to crack seal and sealcoat the airport runway.
12) Started negotiations on the possible purchase of the airport runway and converting the airport to an airport fully owned and managed by the town.
13) Started a monthly Town Hall meeting (first Wednesday of every month 7:00 PM at the Community Center).
14) Motivated change of venue for the Eatonville Arts Festival from Glacier View Park to Center Street East.
15) Talked with the Eagles Club, Lions Club and newly created Rotary Club about town challenges.
16) Started discussions on developing a comprehensive forestry management plan for town properties to assist with the reduction of potential forest fires.
17) Started discussions on development of an RV park within walking distance of downtown.
18) Started working with the town’s Historical Society on the Mainstreet Program and improving the look of historical buildings on Mashell Avenue.
19) Started development of a volunteer structure and system within the town limits that will optimize the efficiencies of volunteer activities.
a. Performed a volunteer cleanup of Boxcar Canyon.
b. Coordinated Earth Day volunteer efforts which resulted in a complete rebuild of the playground at Glacier View Park, a redo of all landscaping at the triangle where Eatonville Highway meets Highway 7, a cleanup of Dogwood Park and assistance with hanging clothes at Center Street Junction.
20) In the developmental stage of rewriting and simplifying the Eatonville Municipal codes.
21) Started analyzing which new businesses the town needs to ensure town citizens have the services they need and want at competitive prices.
22) Developed new procedures for the planning department in order to improve efficiencies.
23) Increasing town involvement with the newly formed Small Business Association.
24) Started analyzing the possibility of installing a kitchen and wellness room at the town hall.
25) Started a “Special projects” list to ensure we do not lose sight of town improvement projects.
It has been a very busy first four months and we have managed to get quite a bit accomplished. We have an extraordinary team of town employees who have great knowledge, are very good at and committed to their jobs and are motivated to make Eatonville a better place for all citizens. Lots of challenges still ahead of us but we are up to the task!
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