Point: Proposed annexation of the Buck/Boreen property

By Sharon Pigman

I am writing in response to a letter from Michael Mayes published in The Journal of the San Juan Islands (“Grover Street is a liability”, Sept. 17).

This is the second letter Mr. Mayes has written to The Journal attempting to throw up roadblocks preventing the annexation of the Buck/Boreen property. Mr. Mayes has also addressed Town Council meetings and been interviewed by at least one Journal reporter regarding the proposed annexation.

He claims to support the Home Trust in its goal of acquiring 15 acres of the Buck/Boreen property to create permanently affordable housing, but his campaign against the annexation casts doubt on that assertion.

What Mr. Mayes does not disclose in his letters is that he is a for-profit housing developer. According to the County Assessor’s Office, he owns 10 residential parcels (eight developed) in town under the names Banc Properties IV, Madison Glen Properties, LLC, College Town Capital, LLC and Michael R. Mayes. He owns 10 additional properties outside of town. The 18 properties have a total taxable value of more than $6 million. Could it be that Mr. Mayes fears losing tenants for his rental units if low- and moderate-income families have the opportunity to purchase a home through the Home Trust?

In his Sept. 17 letter, Mr. Mayes also fails to mention that he is the owner of a new subdivision on Grover Street immediately across from the elementary school. I find it odd that Mr. Mayes' claimed concern for the safety of our children does not appear to extend to children who might live in houses constructed on property he owns, or to those currently living in housing constructed within the past few years on Sunday Drive. A second subdivision has completed infrastructure construction on a cul-de-sac emptying into Grover Street, but I also hear no outcry from him against the developer of that project.

Let’s face it: there are many residential streets in Friday Harbor lacking sidewalks. The residents of those streets face some additional hazard as a result. This is not a problem caused by the proposed annexation of the Buck/Boreen property. I, for one, feel that any injury to any child or adult is one injury too many. However, Friday Harbor clearly does not have the resources to immediately correct the problem, but does appear to have a long-term plan for upgrading those streets. This is a community-wide issue that should not be laid at the door of the Home Trust.

I serve on the board of the San Juan Community Home Trust. I’ve only been on the board for a few months, but I have been moved by the passion and commitment of the Home Trust staff and the generosity and vision of the board members who have worked for two years to make the Buck/Boreen project a reality.

The Buck and Boreen families and an anonymous donor have created an unprecedented opportunity for development over the next 20 years of up to 120 units of forever-affordable housing for island families. If annexation is not approved, this type of opportunity may never come again.

— Sharon Pigman is a San Juan Community Home Trust board member

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