(Editor’s note: During the week of March 20, D.N. Kinsey filed an appeal that stopped the scheduled demolition of the San Juan County Fairgrounds horse barn, sponsored by the county parks and fair department.)
I have worked as a planner and a cultural resources specialist for over 17 years at the National Park Service and locally. I am formally trained at the UC Davis and did my Masters work at Cornell University in landscape architecture and cultural landscapes. The work I do is based on standards and I feel that it is important to address not only environmental impacts but also impacts to cultural resources.
My research shows there were several items that were overlooked: a SEPA Environmental Checklist, fulfillment of the contract with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the overall approach to the “new” horse barn project. Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation was not consulted and the fair barn is eligible for the Washington Heritage Barn register. It is time to take a step back to look at alternatives that allow the fairgrounds to remain a special place, now and in the future.
The demolition permit appeal was the only avenue I had to assure that planning standards are applied equally to private citizens and to government. Interestingly, the payment of the fee was an entire journey of roadblocks.
The San Juan County Fair is our only all-county event, and has been for generations, I would like to see standard planning methods applied to the natural and cultural resources for this public property. While I normally contract for this type of work through my business, at this point it is simply important that all our history is not lost. I care because I grew up here in the San Juans, and, frankly, there are few historic places left that have much meaning. It appears to me that part of the barn could be saved and used for other exhibits while the new concept facilities can accommodate the horses.
D. N. Kinsey