Although it is highly unlikely that Shoeless Joe Jackson will be walking out of the remaining woods near Olhava anytime soon, the question we’d like to put to everyone who opposes big box business is simple.
If they build it, will you come?
This is an easy one to answer right off the bat but could become more difficult if the current economic trend of this state continues. Can you resist low prices on what typically amounts to lesser merchandise in a pinch?
That’s exactly what North Kitsap residents will likely be faced with at Olhava. If you already skip by your local businesses enroute to Silverdale, Bremerton and Seattle, Olhava’s offerings will just mean less driving.
If you’re dead set against the big boxes (Wal-Mart, Costco, and the like) and don’t shop there now, chances are your habits won’t change if a Sam’s Club opens up the street on Finn Hill. Right?
On Jan. 15, this paper encouraged the city to support the work at Olhava. To support the big box tenant, that is thus far unnamed. We also urged the community to welcome it with “open arms.” After doing some additional research and, yes, some soul searching, it has become clear that we were wrong — and we’re not too big to admit this.
Better to be wrong than hypocritical.
Wal-Mart and the like are not what we like to call a “good fit” for Poulsbo. They do not support the ideas that our paper has supported for more than 100 years — those of small businesses. Your businesses.
They have a tendency to change the entire financial make-up of towns, communities and, yes, even counties. History has shown us that the nature of the “big box” is to envelop all the little boxes.
However, whether they fit or don’t fit our concept of community, it is important to note that the future of Olhava is resting on what their associates call, “anchor tenants.” For Olhava Associates, this tenant or tenants represent a reward of sorts for its decade-long struggle in Poulsbo.
Now, the die is cast though and small business in North Kitsap may never be the same. A big box may very well land at Olhava. And, if it’s a Wal-Mart, folks will likely rise up against it. But then what?
Will they also rise up against Costco, Mervyns, Target and whoever else wants to locate here? Can North Kitsap fight them all off?
We’re not sure. What we are sure about is Olhava is now a fact of life. And while it is giving birth to an Olympic College branch campus, higher education isn’t the only thing this womb has in store for us.
In fact, OC is just 20 acres of the 216-acres of development planned at Olhava. That means 196 acres of everything from new houses and apartments to small and big box businesses are on the way.
Poulsbo and North Kitsap will be in for changes but then again to think a community will never change over time is unrealistic.
We are confident that the city council, engineering, public works and planning departments are doing their best to accommodate the growth of Little Norway. We know they have the best interests of North Kitsap in mind and hope they are wise as Olhava develops.
Even with the changes in the wind, does one big box mean that all else is lost? And more importantly, if they build it, will you come?