Nash Street reopens, prompts complaints from Friday Harbor locals

The ball is back in the Friday Harbor Town Council’s court.

Prompted by neighborhood complaints, the council will take a second look at remedies that might lessen traffic impacts on Nash Street when it sets priorities next week in the annual update of the town’s six-year transportation improvement plan.

In part, the six-year plan establishes spending priorities by determining which improvement projects, either underway or proposed, deserve to be ranked highest. Projects that rank at the top of the list are generally first in line for funding. The council will list and rank six or seven projects, including the project underway on Guard Street, at its July 17 meeting.

On June 5, the council voted to reopen a 600-foot stretch of mostly-gravel road on Nash Street in a 3-1 decision. It lies south of the vacant lot adjacent Friday Harbor MarketPlace and connects Spruce and Caines streets.

The move to reopen the street, which until three weeks ago had been closed, followed requests by Spruce Street residents and was backed by then-Councilman Kelley Balcomb-Bartok.

Councilwoman Carrie Lacher voted against reopening the street; Councilman Chris Wolf was absent.

In addition to Guard Street, the improvement projects vying for top rank as part of the annual update include Argyle and Spring streets intersection, Tucker Avenue, First Street, Grover Street and Marguerite Street.

The council opted to have a steel gate removed and Nash Street reopened even though the town, according to Administrator King Fitch, lacked the funding to make any large-scale improvements

Neighbors insist that the road is too narrow to accommodate pedestrians and vehicles, or for two cars to safely pass.

At last week’s council session, Kathleen Zuidema said what had been a comfortable pathway has grown into a nightmare for homeowners and for pedestrians on that stretch of road. The amount of noise and dust kicked up by speeding cars is beyond annoying, she said.

“I just think it’s a terrible idea,” she said. “There’s so much foot traffic. I’d say every five minutes there’s a car going by.”

David Eden said that his mother, a Nash Street resident, is frightened when she walks to the senior center nearby. She’s legally blind and relies on a cane to help her walk. He suggested the town install speed limit signs, dust down the road once a week, and, make that stretch of Nash a one-way road.

Meanwhile, town staff members were instructed by the council to put in a three-way stop at the intersection of Carter Avenue and Larsen Street. The council also rejected a request to establish a 10-minute parking zone on Harrison Street, in front of the Churchill Square building.

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