County Council expected to vote Aug. 24 on acceptance of Nichols Street deed

The San Juan County Council is expected to decide after an Aug. 24 public hearing whether to give final approval of the Land Bank’s investment of up to $400,000 in historic preservation and open space easements at 150 Nichols St., site of a proposed year-round farmers market and events center.

The County Council has twice approved that investment. Opposition has grown, however, since the Town of Friday Harbor pulled out as a potential partner late last year.

The San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild would use the Land Bank funds and a $375,000 state grant to purchase the site. The guild would own the site and would restore the building and grounds.

The site would be called “Brickworks.” It was at one time a plant that manufactured cement blocks for construction of many of the town’s oldest buildings, including Town Hall. The remodel would be subject to restrictions spelled out by the Land Bank.

Opponents have called the purchase a misuse of public funds and question the viability of the project. A petition circulated by businesswoman Lynn Danaher calls for the guild’s state grant to be used to locate the farmers market at the San Juan County Fairgrounds.

Supporters say farmers, merchants and the town would benefit from revitalization of the site. Farmers Market manager Rosa Blair said guild members and market vendors are united in their support for the project.

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