Letters to the Editor

Grover Street is a significant liability problem

The San Juan Island School District has a significant liability problem that impacts the safety of the island’s children even more than the rubber tire crumbs in the new playground.

Friday Harbor Elementary School has approximately 900 linear feet of frontage on Grover Street with no sidewalks on either side of the street. To make matters worse, about 540 feet of the paved portion of Grover Street is located on school property.

What this means is every car driving past the school ball fields in either direction is driving on property owned by the San Juan Island School District.

Kids and adults from Hunt Street, Sunday Drive and Linder Street and beyond walk along this road daily. If you think the school has money problems now, imagine the potential lawsuit if a child were injured or killed on school property by a car traveling 30 mph.

This situation has been less than optimal but the problem will become impossible to ignore if annexation plans move forward and a large number of homes are added at the end of Grover Street.

At this point, we have no idea what the impact and cost of the annexation of the Buck Property will be because we have no traffic or infrastructure study to consult. Over time, daily traffic on Grover Street could triple. I have been told that this proposed development would house 150 children, many of whom I assume would walk this path to and from school and town.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that will be expensive to repair, which is why it hasn’t been done. There is a significant grade issue that will require correction before the street can be moved and sidewalks can be installed. How much will this cost? At this point we don’t know, but based upon the cost of other recent town roads and sidewalk projects, it is likely to be a large expenditure.

An elite group of islanders stand to make millions of dollars from the proposed annexation of 45 acres of residential property in the town. Unless they are going to pay to fix Grover Street, the cost of this project will be dumped on the town and its residents.

It is important to consider the true short- and long-term costs of any planning decisions we make as a community. If we rush to make major decisions, we run the risk of missing unintended consequences which could come back to haunt us for decades and make the town even less affordable than it already is.

Michael Mayes
Friday Harbor

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