Buckley Council gives Fright Factory one more year of scares on A Street

Buckley City Council voted May 22 to give the Fright Factory Haunted House one more year of scares on A Street.

The city typically leases the Miller Property at 400 A St. to Dennis and Diane Wink for periods of two years—with access between June 1 and Thanksgiving Day—so that they may operate their haunted house. In return, the all-volunteer operation pays 50 percent of its net revenues to the city. Last year, a portion of proceeds went to Buckley Youth Services.

However, the Haunted House has drawn fire from direct neighbors, who have complained about excess noise and impingements on their private property. Alice Money, a leader of the group against the Haunted House, alleged at a February meeting that she had been punched in the face by a woman asked to leave her lawn.

"Everyone is talking about the good in the Fright Factory, but when you live right in front of it, it's not enjoyable," Money said. "When you start getting assaulted, it's not enjoyable."

City staff and the Winks have already vetted an alternative Fright Factory location on a piece of Washington State University property in the city, but the site will require a $4,000 electrical upgrade and an undetermined several thousand more to add a sprinkler system—projects too extensive and too expensive to make the haunted house viable for the 2012 Halloween season.

So the question to come before council was whether to grant the Winks another year of operation before definitively relocating, or to cut off A Street operations—and the source of neighbor complaints—swiftly and decisively.

The chambers were packed with supporters on both sides of the issue; both the Winks and Moneys presented petitions signed by citizens in the general vicinity of the A Street site.

Rose Clark of the Buckley Food Bank spoke in public comment to inform the council that the haunted house annually raises $1,000 to $1,500 in food donations.

"If the haunted house is obstructing people who live there, and moving it will help out, I think you should keep it," Rick Duncan of Bonney Lake said. "Keep kids off the street and out of trouble."

Mac McCracken, a volunteer for the Fright Factory and the city's parks and building maintenance supervisor, spoke in support of the money the haunted house raises for the youth center.

"I hear the screaming over there, and it sounds like a lot of fun," he said. "And if neighbors are having a problem with parking, they're welcome to use the back of my field."

Fright Factory Neighbor Trevor Crimmins was nonplussed by parking management suggestions.

"All that traffic on A Street is going to go by my road and by my kids… where we're already yelling at people to slow down," he said.

At the close of public comment, Councilman Norm Irons sympathized with both sides.

"I am 100 percent in favor of the Haunted House, and 100 percent opposed to the location," Irons said. "Don't misunderstand, I think the haunted house is terrific, but I think it's in the wrong location to be infringing on other people's property."

Irons offered $5,000 out of pocket to relocate the Fright Factory.

Councilman Milt Tremblay responded to anti-haunted house skepticism of the council's actual intent to go through with a relocation with a reassurance of the sincerity of the body's claim.

"It's not this year, and then this again next year," he said. "It's this year, and that's it."

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