Olson's Resort Sale

Olsons Resort

Olson's Resort ( http://www.olsonsresort.com ) is on the selling block.
  County Commissioner Mike Doherty is actively and effectively attempting to help preserve history and public access for this one of a kind Fisher mans dream.
The following article was carried in the Peninsula Daily News [Click here for followup article on Aug 17, 2007 regarding $100K grant]

Owners of 70-year-old resort hope to preserve it for public

By Jim Casey, Peninsula Daily News March 18. 2007

SEKIU - On a clear day, you can see all the way to 1936.

That's when Arlen Olson's father, Alvin, built his namesake resort for sport fisherfolk on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Now Olson, at 73, has received a bid from a buyer who would raze it for condominiums, but he's not rising to the offer like a salmon to a herring.

He wants to preserve public access to its beach and boat launch.

Olson's wish captured the attention of Mike Doherty, Clallam County's West End commissioner who has clout with Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Doherty, D-Port Angeles, wrote to Gregoire and to the 24th District's legislators outlining Arlen and Donalyn's dilemma.

"The Olsons face a difficult decision," Doherty told Reps. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, and Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, and Sen. Jim Hargrove.

"After family operation for over 70 years . . . they must sell their beloved resort. Risk in a sale is that the majority of sport and commercial fishers use the resort's boat launch and marina to access . . . one of the state's most significant saltwater fisheries."

Closing its public access "would spell disaster to the remaining small resorts and other businesses in the Clallam Bay/Sekiu area," Doherty wrote.

No rush to sell
Arlen Olson last week said he's in no rush to sell, especially not with a salmon-fishing season starting next month.

"We'd as soon be here all summer," he said. "We have reservations. You can't just walk away."

Moreover, Olson doesn't want to walk away from the people who kept his family in business for seven decades.

"The sport fishermen are the ones who built this resort," he said.

"I'm trying to keep it for sport fishermen."

Olson isn't sure that the buyers would close the boat ramp and beach - and he doesn't want to take that chance.

"I'm just trying to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.

Donalyn Olson echoed her husband.

"The sportsmen kept us alive all these years," she said.

"Some of the places around here [including the Silver King Resort and Herb's Motel] have been sold to private parties, and that shuts it down to the public."

'Disastrous' impact
Shutting down is something Clallam Bay/Sekiu knows all too well. The Strait-side hamlets have watched their branch bank and grocery disappear.

Bill Drath, head of Clallam Bay-Sekiu Chamber of Commerce, said closing the resort would be "disastrous to the community."

"Olson's Resort has a large percentage of the beds available in the area," he told Peninsula Daily News.

"Not only would jobs be lost at the resort, but all the support industries would be affected as well. The Clallam Bay-Sekiu area needs all the jobs it can get."

The save-the-resort idea resonated in Olympia.

Doherty's letter to legislators sparked an almost immediate meeting among several state agencies Tuesday.

Brent Bahrenburg, a project development specialist with the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, called it "just a preliminary meeting" - where agencies agreed to meet again in two or three weeks, possibly at the resort.

Besides the state, Bahrenburg said "players" in the issue include Clallam County's Economic Development Council, the Port of Port Angeles and at least two conservancy groups.

'Bedroom' for new park
At Washington State Parks, planner Peter Herzog said Olson's Resort intrigues officials who are developing the nearby Hoko River State Park.

"We have a park in the early stages of planning," Herzog said, and the resort's 45 units might serve as its "bedroom."

Doherty's simultaneous plea to several state agencies also weighed in the resort's favor, Herzog said.

"It might not trip the trigger of each individual agency," he said, "but together there might be some sense in all of this."

Doherty's letter speaks of bald eagles and marbled murrelets, boating and kayaking, hiking and just soaking in the view.

"It is my hope that we can give the Olsons an idea of whether the state is a potential viable purchaser within 60 days," he wrote.

Meanwhile, people from Sekiu to Olympia are hitching up their hopes and trying to be optimistic.

"There have been literally generations of individuals who grew up fishing the Northwest Coast at Olson's Resort," said Drath.

"Hopefully this tradition will continue."

But Bahrenburg cautioned, "I wish I had a crystal ball and I wish could say we have all the money in the world, but we don't."

Donalyn Olson said, "At this point in time, it's hard to say too much. It's hard to say too little. It's hard to say anything else.

"We don't want Sekiu shut down. We're going to do what we can do."

Reporter Jim Casey can be reached at 360-417-3538 or at jim.casey@peninsuladailynews.com.