League of Women Voters Observer Corps notes on public meetings

Submitted by the League of Women Voters Observer Corps.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

Fire District meeting, Jan. 10

A slate of officers retained in the current line-up Frank Cardinale Chair, Albert Olson Vice-chair.

A CPR mannequin was purchased for training. Subsequently, a foundation donated the funds to cover the purchase.

The District is in discussion with Friday Harbor town council on a contract to handle B2 (business) fire inspections/risk reduction and fire investigations.

Report on 2022 financials:

Ending funds were about $800kk and plenty to handle expenses until the next tax revenues start flowing in late March. The financial work session was set for March 8 at 1:00. A detailed End of Year report for 2022 including the state of the district will be ready for presentation at that meeting.

The Safe Boat on order will be delivered in June and will be both a firefighting platform and a patient transfer vessel.

Operations for December handled 108 calls split exactly between response and EMS/rescue. They averaged an 87-second response time and an eight-minute travel time.

They currently running a three-and-a-half-month course of Fire Academy and EMS training with some students from Lopez and Orcas. They had no serious issues during the weather events. Problems with the unified county emergency communications/radio system (CODAN) are still being experienced. The service provider has identified the issues and is working on correcting them.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

Port of Friday Harbor Commissioner meeting Jan. 11

A citizen thanked Port of Friday Harbor staff who were most appreciative for the rescue of Canoe Club boats from the king tides.

A request was made for the meeting time to revert to the old time of 4-6 p.m. The commission decided to keep the current meeting time going forward.

Three new staff members in dock manufacturing, marina operations and Capital Projects were introduced.

The council reviewed the Jensen and Shipyard Cove Masterplan. The priority is to maintain a working boatyard with a boatlift on San Juan Island and support marine trades. The port needs to generate revenue to pay for capital needs and subsidize the boatyard. Over the next 30 years, they will need about 50 million dollars in investment to maintain and support all port businesses, including 28 million for repairs and replacement.

A small levy is one option to increase revenue, but it will not fund the entire need. Raising rates for businesses at the shipyard might be revisited next year.

The proposed marina expansion would generate the most revenue but permitting issues could delay getting the project underway indefinitely. The Port Director, Todd Nicholson, said 33 port projects in the area are held by tribal objections and the commission agreed to open conversations with local tribes as part of the preparation for permitting. The commission narrowed the parameters for the consultants to draft options. The commission agreed that adequate parking was a priority, that development of the wooded area is on the table, safety and efficiency might limit some public access and building preservation. Sea level rise needs to be anticipated. Environmental clean-up is required and is estimated to need $4 million. Given these challenges mixed-use development and finding development partners are also on the table. The boat lift is at the end of its life and in the clean-up area. The port plans to build a new one in deeper water with more storage which will increase capacity.

They will get a new estimate for the shower remodel. Construction would begin probably in 2024/2025. It has been painted and spruced up in the interim.

Additional proposals for the Spring Street Landing, the five-year capital improvement plan will be addressed at the next meeting.

Town Council meeting Jan. 19

During public comment, Farhad Ghatan asked that workforce housing be a future agenda item. He has forwarded the town administrator information about a state program where the town could apply for funds to build workforce housing. He would like to provide some examples and ideas. The Land Bank did a presentation on their plans to link up trails through Linde Park to Beaverton Valley Marsh. There are four parts: the first with a trailhead at Halvorson Road is open. Redwing Trail headed at Linde Park is scheduled to open in late summer or fall of 2023 and section 3 next year, while the date for the final portion over the marsh is TBD.

The broadband discussion with Rock Island was postponed to the next meeting. The Community Planning Department has resubmitted town expansion plans a single proposal to the County. They have selected a vendor for online permitting. The Housing Action Plan is slated to be completed in June. The Mayor had heard some requests from businesses asking for an ordinance to allow short-term signage for new businesses. The Council noted this could prove complicated and suggested that businesses interested in this come to public comment time and make their case.

The town will stop issuing temporary business licenses, which henceforth can be obtained from the state online with a fast turnaround. The town renewed contracts and will update plans for the Friday Harbor Landfill.

The Council adopted a new fee schedule and noted that they wanted to talk to the county about accessing state funds for risk reduction including incentives to install sprinklers in older businesses. The Administrator reported Water Department staff are getting credentialed. There is no union contract. She and the Mayor will meet with Congressman Larsen on Friday, the Mayor was in a meeting with the governor where towns asked for more flexibility in using the lodging tax for workforce housing. The Mayor asked that we remember Dr. Martin Luther King by showing empathy to others.