|Shelton waterfront at night|
Did you know that Shelton is a Puget Sound community? It’s true.
“What makes you say such a thing?” You may ask.
Well, it may be hard to believe but underneath that cloud of smoke at the end of Railroad Avenue, behind that large industrial structure that dominates half of our downtown lays Oakland Bay, which, via Hammersley Inlet, is part of the great Puget Sound.
I know, sometimes it seems like someone (Green Diamond? Simpson?) is trying to hide it from Shelton residents, but I promise you it is there. Yet, trying to get a glimpse of it can make you feel like that short child, stretching and jumping behind the crowd of people to get a glimpse of the parade.
This is because, of all Puget Sound communities, Shelton may have the least to offer when it comes to waterfront experience.
Sure, there are some ways one can experience our inclusion in this great region that includes towns like Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. You can either own a $500,000+ waterfront home (or at least make friends with someone who does), or work for Taylor United (who seem to control the majority of the shoreline in our area). You can also attempt to sneak past the gates of the downtown Olympic Panel or Simpson mills and creep your way to the waterfront that is called “Shelton Harbor”. This, however, I do not recommend.
There is always jumping in your car and driving 10 to 15 minutes from downtown to one of our beautiful waterfront parks: Walker Park (if you can handle paying for a new car alignment due to driving down Fairmount Ave), or the new, very appreciated Oakland Bay Park out on Agate Road. Our final option, of course, is Shelton’s favorite answer for everything- just go to Olympia. Speaking of which, did you know that Shelton has one of the worst commuting patterns on the West Coast? I dare to say that those gas dollars spent aren’t only due to commute to work and business but also play and recreation. Indeed, leaving Shelton seems to be Shelton’s answer for most things.
Please know I understand that this is Shelton’s lot in life. We are a Blue Collar community. Our downtown waterfront is not sailboats, boardwalks and restaurants; it’s smokestacks, trucks and sawdust. It’s our industry and economy; our history. Many hold this with pride.
Perhaps, though, this image is one of our reasons for a dying downtown. In today’s world “downtown” is a place of community, culture and aesthetics. Currently, the vibe of downtown Shelton is more of a time-warp…day by day maybe even a ghost town. I can only speak for what I know about individuals and families around my age when I say that what is left of paychecks after bills and gas tanks usually goes to an evening out on neighboring towns, not ours.
Come on, Shelton. Should we be so surprised that no one wants to come to our town when it is so unsightly? Shouldn’t we expect Shelton to routinely show up on the list of most un-healthy places in Washington when going for a run or walk through downtown feels more like exercising in a factory?
This city could benefit immensely from a total facelift. The potential that is unique to Shelton is found in the fact that the natural beauty is already there. It is we that, by tearing down forest and covering our waterfront with mills, have covered it or removed it.
With a pricey investment in three tourism commercials that have been broadcast during major television events on major local television channels, it is clear that Mason County is on the move to become a tourist destination. And why wouldn’t it? The Hood Canal, the Olympic Mountains, and Staircase are a few of the spectacular landmarks within this large county. That is our County though. The ultimate question hurts to ask but is necessary; why would anyone want to come to Shelton?