As we approach the end of 2021 and prepare for 2022, our town government is facing an administration change. Outgoing Mayor Mike Schaub has dedicated the last eight years of his life to serving as Eatonville’s mayor — a full-time responsibility with less than part-time compensation.
Because of Mayor Schaub’s administration, our town has more police, including a full-time police chief. We have a full-time professional fire department.
The South Pierce Fire District has moved its administrative office into our downtown corridor.
We have an updated comprehensive plan.
We have a traffic light.
At the Dec. 13 council meeting, Councilwoman Jennie Hannah alluded to the fact that Mayor Schaub has not celebrated nor advertised his successes and expressed her belief that he likely never will. Because of this, I second Councilwoman Hannah’s inclination to celebrate Mayor Schaub’s successes over the past eight years and extend a heartfelt thank you for the time, commitment and sacrifices that he has made while serving as our mayor.
The proof of his positive impact on Eatonville is evident if you take the time to look...
In 2017, the town embarked on a $770,000 street improvement project that included the installation of the traffic light at Center Street and Washington Avenue for a total cost to the town of about $15,000. Mayor Schaub’s administration executed a developer’s agreement for street improvements on Center Street East and Weyerhaeuser Street North with an estimated $3,750,000 price tag. The cost to the town for facilitating this improvement project — $0. His administration initiated a $470,000 street improvement project for Rainier and Penn avenues. The cost to the town to complete the project was just shy of $47,000. His administration completed a $30,000 emergency street repair project that cost the town around $1,500.
Our Town Hall entrance has been remodeled and is now ADA accessible, an $80,000 project that cost the town about $27,000. The administration pursued a $2,140,000 improvement project to Washington Avenue/Highway 161. The projected cost to the town was $209,000. Let’s not forget the $46,000 street improvement project for Lynch Creek Road that cost the town roughly $3,000 or the $11,000 fingerprint scanner for the police department that cost the town, well, nothing.
To address and deter reoccurring vandalism and incidents of theft in the parks and at the water treatment plant, Mayor Schaub’s administration installed cameras, a $44,000 project that cost the town roughly 55 percent of that cost. Then there’s the electronic speed sign that slows us down as we roll into town, a $5,000 project that cost the town $1,500.
In what I would comfortably classify as one of the most significant achievements in his administration, Mayor Shaub pushed for a $1.4 million improvement project to the water treatment plant that included the addition of an extra filter that exponentially increases the ability to perform maintenance and repair of the facility without interrupting the supply of treated fresh water to our community. Prior to this improvement, filter failures and filter maintenance sometimes necessitated taking the plant offline, resulting in the temporary interruption of fresh-water production to the town’s water reserve storage, a scary proposition given the fact that in peak summer months, the water plant operates at nearly 100 percent of its fresh-water production capacity simply to meet consumer demand. This critical $1.4 million improvement cost the town roughly $10,000.
In these examples alone, the Schaub administration initiated and/or completed more than $8.5 million in improvement projects at an expense to the town of approximately $350,000. The millions in savings to the town is the result of the relentless pursuit of grants and outside funding and a dedication to fiscal responsibility. In these examples alone, the Schaub administration secured outside funding sources for a savings to the town of more than $8 million.
There are countless other examples.
As we continue into the new year, there are still multiple projects under way and/or unfinished. The Schaub administration has facilitated an agreement with parties involved in the cleanup of the old landfill that ultimately reduced the town’s financial responsibilities from potential millions of dollars to tens of thousands, thanks to the town’s pursuit of grants and partnerships with its neighbors.
The administration’s focus on improving community outreach is evident in its push for significant improvements to the community center. The improvements include the installation of a new generator with the expense to the town being a fraction of the overall $235,000 estimated price tag. A partnership with Pierce County resulted in an agreement for the installation of a large walk-in freezer/refrigerator unit to increase the community center’s capacity to serve local families in need. The only expense to the town for this project is expected to be the cost of performing the sitework. As if that wasn’t enough, the administration sought to retrofit the community center’s failing HVAC system, a project with an estimated price tag of roughly $80,000, that will cost the town approximately nothing because of the application of federal funds.
I would be remiss by failing to acknowledge former Town Administrator Abby Gribi’s contribution to the financial successes of our town. Abby served as the face of the town and dedicated herself to finding outside solutions to pay for projects that the town simply did not have the resources to fund. The partnerships that Abby cultivated with other municipalities and organizations were critical to funding the infrastructure projects that our town so desperately needed: partnerships with the Transportation Improvement Board, Pierce County Regional Council, state Rep. Andrew Barkis, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, Weyerhaeuser, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Department of Ecology or any number of other funding sources that she leveraged for the benefit of our town.
Our town is a better place because of Mayor Schaub and his administration’s work over the last eight years. As a councilmember, I didn’t always see eye to eye with Mike on issues related to the town, and I didn’t necessarily always agree with some of his executive decisions. However, I would never see examples of him govern with malice or recklessness, and I believe that his decisions were based off a genuine desire to serve the community responsibly and govern in a way that he truly believed was in the best interests of Eatonville.
On Dec. 31, the chapter of Eatonville Mayor Mike Schaub will conclude, a chapter that includes recovering from the delayed financial effects of the Great Recession and declaring a state of emergency during an infectious disease pandemic. When the history is written and the book is closed on the mayors of Eatonville, we will likely look back and view this as one of the most successful and productive administrations in Eatonville’s history.
Council position No. 4