Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Story of Kenmore

The City logo of Kenmore, WA

All along the lake, east of Seattle, are mighty hills and muggy swamps, but there was one place in the far north, right where the lake ended, where the hills turned in to a plain. This spot had plentiful timber, and since it was the termination of the lake, and also flat, the first roads built eastward and northward ran through it. Further up the Sammamish River, which runs through it, was a great floodplain, but here, at this one place, the floods did not occur. Instead were great strands of timber, 20 feet in diameter and 300 feet in to the air.

A young McMaster from Kenmore, Ontario came to Seattle in 1889. A month after he got there, the city had burned down, and his future looked bleak. Kenmore, Ontario was in turn named for the Scottish village of Kenmore, on the Loch Tay in the highlands, by a McLaren who came there long before, from Kenmore, Scotland, and always had the Highlands in his blood. McMaster was not willing to throw in the towel, and heard tell of the great virgin timbers of the lakes northern shore, and knew of the roads that crossed there and the flat plains. He also knew of a river that, with the taming of the floodplains, was now deep enough for steamboats, and a canal they were building from the lake to the sea.

Not much later, he started a Shingle Mill at this point on the lake. There were many sawmills around, but shingle mills were less common, and greatly in demand as the population grew. He also built a great log boom, that both helped feed his shingle mill when demand was high, and helped feed sawmills on the lake when demand was low. Though the entire logging operation was abandoned in 1920, the growing community of Kenmore, named by McMaster for his former home, preserved the boom, maintaining it as a fishing and swimming dock for the good of all.

The community also took an abandoned barn, and in 1952, made it in to their first library. They built a school, and roadhouses, and restaurants, and expanded the road. They built parks, great ones that are still around, and preserved a beautiful old Mission style Seminary as part of St. Edwards Park. The road they maintained and expanded is now 522 Highway, a "State Route" that is a major eastward path in to Seattle. The road north, however, now runs further West, though the older road is maintained for local traffic as 527. St. Edwards Park is now a State Park.

In 1946, a swamp in Kenmore, unused for anything for many years, attracted the attention of three high school friends united after World War II. Jack Mines, Reg Collins, and Bob Monroe built a hangar in the swamp, and purchased a single plane, an Aeronca Model K. Over the years, service would increase in both volume and respect, and today, Kenmore Air is one of the largest seaplane operators in the world, and they are still based out of Kenmore, WA. The managerie of planes, dozens upon dozens of them, on the lot by the road is one of the richest sights you'll ever see.

In 1978, a science-based naturopathy university named Bastyr built itself in Kenmores southern outskirts. The university was started as extensive new legislation at both the state and federal levels had made times for natural medicine turbulent. With the National College of Naturopathic Medicines departure to Portland, Washington state legislators were threatening to suspend all licensing of naturopathic professionals as no college any longer existed in the state. A series of determined NCNM graduates understood that a school firmly built on scientific principles would not only save licensure in Washington, but grow respect for naturopathy nationwide. In the words of Dr. Mitchell, one of its founding fathers, "It was built on the best visions of what a really high-quality naturopathic institution could be." Far from being a stereotype, Bastyr sought full accredation and a scientific basis, and in my personal experience, also created one of the most helpful and down-to-earth professional climates I have ever found anywhere.

For many years they fared well with no city government, growing in population, wealth and serviceability, though they were recognized by the post office as an address, but in 1990, a bill by the Washington Legislature known as the "Growth Management Act" created development committees. These development committees told Kenmore that they would either start a city government, annex in to a neighbor, or let the county decide. The GMA also created a massive bureaucracy for the rezoning of land that leaves abandoned malls unused for decades and creates a major shortage of land for the kind of manufacturing and industry that any state but Washington would love to have. The GMA even, according to a farmer from Stanwood I spoke to, forces paperwork to be filed and consultation with bureaucracy to be made before any field larger then 10 acres can be tilled or planted. By 1998, against the will of its citizens, Kenmore was a "city," though it had been the size, stature and utility of a city for many years.

Despite the fact that Kenmore was built by individuals doing their thing and giving, voluntarily, to the communty, the State had to slip their greedy hands in to it. They forced Kenmore to do the "right thing" and waste tax dollars that never needed to be spent hiring people who never needed to be hired. And all in the interest of "Growth Management."

Sources: (In order of usage)

The public displays at Log Boom Park, Kenmore, WA

Bastyr University, "At A Glance: Founding of Bastyr University"

Reagan Dunn, son of former Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (R-8, till 2006), with regards to Totem Lake Mall and other underdeveloped or abandoned commercial properties. (GMA)

A farmer from Stanwood, WA with approximately 100 acres of vegetable growing land (GMA)

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