Century-old pier closure causes controversy, vandalism

INDIANOLA, Wash. - A century-old pier in Indianola is regarded as the symbol of a small town that people cherish. The decision to close the old landmark to the public is generating heated controversy, and it appears to have led to vandalism against one of the decision makers.

Former Port Commissioner Judith Frank took a picture of what she calls the first act of vandalism.

Someone took the barrier set up to block people from using the pier, and propped it against the entrance to her yard.

"Since then I've had eggs thrown at my property, I've had people come around and throw some kind of red substance on the property," Frank says.

Frank resigned last week, concerned about the safety of herself and her family.

"If people are willing to come on my property and essentially defile it, I don't know what else they're capable of doing," Frank adds.

Frank and her two co-commissioners voted to close the popular dock in June, after an engineering report raised concerns about its structural integrity.

The vote was a very unpopular decision made right before the town's festival and Fourth of July fireworks.

"Every one of the commissioners lost sleep over making the decision to close this dock for public safety purposes," Frank says.

Barbara Arrow Smith does not condone what vandals did to Frank's home, but she thinks the former Commissioner was targeted by those who think her personal style is abrasive.

"When you make people mad, sometimes they react this way," Arrow Smith says. "I think the closure of the dock is a massive over-reaction to a very small amount of information."

Several locals think Frank is over reacting to relatively mild pranks. Others say it appears her opponents are out-of-line.

"I don't think it really has to be closed. But I don't think it's okay at all to vandalize some body's house like that. No one really deserves that," a local resident says.

Though Frank believes the vandalism and criticism reflects a smaller portion of the community, she sticks by her decision to resign.

"It's not worth it to me," Frank says.