Document 35: Forward Thrust

“What a Contributor Should Know about Forward Thrust,” 23 May 1967, Forward Thrust Papers, Acc. 1704-4, Box 1,
University of Washington Libraries.

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May 23, 1967

What a Contributor Should Know about Forward Thrust

What Forward Thrust Is
Forward Thrust is an ideal, an action program, and an organization.

The ideal is an unswerving belief that the great and rapid community growth need not result in the destruction of what has been termed “the Puget Sound way of life.” Indeed, the goal of Forward Thrust is to turn King County's present population and industrial boom to the advantage of all citizens of the community.

The action program of Forward Thrust is preparation of a series of capital improvement general obligation bond measures for the elected officials of King County and its municipalities, who in turn will present the program to voters for their decision. These capital improvements will cover those major items in the fields of transportation, open space and recreation, culture, urban redevelopment, and so forth, which are necessary to the orderly development of the community, but which cannot be financed through existing means. The separate facets of the Forward Thrust program will be organized into a system of priorities aimed at financing “first things first.”

The organization of Forward Thrust is a cross-section of King County's population. The “Committee of 200” is an absolutely non-partisan group of businessmen, labor leaders, housewives, professional people, educators, governmental officials and professional planners. The membership was selected by a 24-man organizing committee appointed by the mayor of Seattle and chairman of the King County Board of Commissioners. Forward Thrust is a non-profit, temporary corporation, which will cease operations with the passage of its program at the polls.

Why Forward Thrust Was Created
The question for Seattle and King County is not if we shall have growth, but how shall we guide it in order to prevent the serious problems of overcrowded communities, slums, suburban sprawl, traffic jams, pollution, noise and blight which plague nearly all of America's large cities today.

Before the announcement that Boeing would build the 747, and had won the SST design competition, it was estimated that we would have to make room, within the corporate limits of King County, for another 600,000 people by 1985. That's equivalent to one more Seattle, or 30 more Bellevues. New forecasts are under way, and it seems apparent already that these 600,000 new neighbors will be in our midst by as early as 1975.

Their half-million additional cares will further choke our streets and highways; the central freeway is already carrying the traffic projected for 1975 during peak hours.

Demand for housing will convert more open space lands to residential lots, and make access to golf courses, parks, beaches, streams and camping sites still more difficult. Water, air and visual pollution control could get entirely out of hand.

These threats to our unique living and working environment are real, and facing us today. Every other major city in the country ignored these problems when they were in a stage of growth comparable to King County's. Transportation facilities were built piecemeal, and resulted in multiplying congestion, rather than solving it. Open space and recreational facilities are nearly non-existent for millions of big-city residents.

Seattle and King County are experiencing today the same rapid growth rate that created these very problems for major urban communities throughout this country and abroad.

Realizing that King County has only a brief time in which to take preventative action, Forward Thrust was organized by the King County Commissioners, Mayor of Seattle, and civic leaders. Forward Thrust is charged with developing a comprehensive package of capital improvements that will have been coordinated with all governmental officials and interested citizen groups before being submitted to the votes.

In other words, Forward Thrust was created to prepare a “go for broke” program designed to prevent this community's way of living from being destroyed in a hodge-podge distribution of people, cars, houses and smokestacks. . . .

Arriving at a Fair Share Contribution
In order to finance the first phase of the Forward Thrust efforts, 35 potential contributors were contacted; 32 responded for a total of $100,000. Those contributors are:

Alaska Steamship Company
Alpac Corporation
Associated General Contractors
The Boeing Company
The Bon Marche
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad
Fisher Flouring Mills Company
Frederick & Nelson
General Insurance Company
Great Northern Railway
Jewett-Gorrie Insurance Company
Nordstrom Best
Northern Life Insurance Company
Northern Pacific Railway Company
Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company
Pacific Car & Foundry Company
Pacific Northwest Bell
J. C. Penney Company
Pioneer National Title Insurance Company
Puget Sound Power & Light
Sears Roebuck & Company
Seattle Clearing House Association
Seattle Hardware Company
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Times
Sick's Rainier Brewing Company
Simpson Timber Company
Union Pacific Railroad
University Properties, Inc.
Washington Mutual Savings Bank
Washington Natural Gas Company
Western International Hotels, Inc.

Many hours have been spent in analyzing the original contributions in order to arrive at a reasonable request figure in this second round of financial support. The total budget of $300,000, of which the previously raised $100,000 is a part, was approved by the Forward Thrust Executive Committee. Expenditures will be monitored by the Finance Committee, whose members are:

Howard S. Wright, President
Thomas E. Bolger, Treasurer
Edward E. Carlson
William M. Jenkins

Rapid growth is no longer a matter of future speculation for King County. It is upon us today, to a degree greater than even the most visionary forecasters had imagined. We can become its complacent victim, thus losing one of the richest heritages in the land. Or we can determine to use the little time remaining to build an even finer community than we enjoy today.

The experience of other cities has shown that failure to properly plan and provide for this growth can only mean substantially higher costs, eventually, to the business community. A reasonable investment now in the program of Forward Thrust can well mean a real saving in later years.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest