Port Angeles: State officials, Lower Elwha meet again over graving yard issues

PORT ANGELES — State officials and Lower Elwha Klallam leaders say several more meetings are needed to iron out differences over constructing a concrete dry dock over an ancient tribal village.

State Department of Transportation and tribal officials toured the waterfront graving yard site, then held informal discussions Wednesday afternoon.

“We agreed that we are not going to jump to the notion that we have a simple solution,” Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald told Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday night.

“We are going to have several more discussions, and we are going to have to work hard to come up with a solution.”

Lower Elwha Klallam Chairwoman Frances G. Charles said tribal leaders agreed to a Transportation request to put their concerns about recovering all human remains in writing within the next week.

MacDonald said Transportation leaders want to better understand tribal concerns and continue discussions before making any decisions.

He said no deadline has been set of when the tribe and state must resolve their differences.

The tribe wants to remove all human remains from the 22.5-acre site before full construction of the graving yard — a concrete dry dock in which components for the Hood Canal Bridge and other state floating bridges will be manufactured.

No deadline

“Setting a deadline will not help us, and it is not the best way to make a decision,” MacDonald said.

“The problem is clearly understood by all people involved, and we must work with each other to come up with a solution.”

Charles said she was hoping for more answers from Wednesday’s meeting, but reiterated that the tribe is dedicated to trying to develop a workable solution.

“My feeling about the day was that we kind of took a step backwards,” Charles said.

“We put our concerns in writing in May and again in September, but we will do it again if that is what it takes.”

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