Opinion

Be heard on proposed major changes | Editorial

San Juan Island is at the threshold of major changes that will be felt 50 years from now. Attend these meetings. Be sure you are heard.

— On March 18, San Juan Island hospital district commissioners vote on a contract that would give PeaceHealth the right to build and operate a hospital on San Juan Island for 50 years. The commission meets at 5 p.m. in the Frank Wilson EMS Building on Spring Street.

There will be no public vote on this issue.

According to the proposed contract, PeaceHealth would bear two-thirds of the cost of buying land for and building the hospital, estimated at $29.8 million. One-third of the cost would be raised philanthropically by the San Juan Community Hospital Committee. The property taxes you pay now to the hospital district would be passed on to PeaceHealth to subsidize healthcare services. Beyond that, PeaceHealth would be responsible for all financial liability of the hospital.

The hospital would operate 24/7 and would offer many services for which islanders must now go to the mainland. The hospital would be governed by a board appointed by PeaceHealth. Your commissioners would be responsible only for San Juan Island EMS.

The contract is available for public review at the medical center. It is also posted on SanJuanJournal.com.

— On March 19, the Friday Harbor Town Council is expected to vote on the annexation of 48 acres near the former gravel pit. A neighborhood of 240 permanently affordable and market-rate homes would be developed over 20 years. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in Mullis Community Senior Center.

A development agreement was drafted over a series of meetings between the Buck family, the San Juan Community Home Trust, town Land Use Administrator Michael Bertrand, and Town Attorney Don Eaton.

The agreement seems to address concerns the town had about the development’s potential impacts on utilities and existing ratepayers. And the county will develop a road connecting Turn Point and Pear Point roads, hopefully alleviating traffic on Warbass Way.

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