League of Women Voter’s Observer Corps notes on Town Council meeting

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.

Town of Friday Harbor Council regular meeting on Oct. 19

Mayor Jackson met other mayors at a conference in Leavenworth struggling with the same issues as here: affordable housing, difficulty filling positions and managing tourists. Todd Nicholson, Port Executive Director, explained the policy for kiosks on the main pier for seasonal businesses to increase traffic below Downriggers. Nicholson and the Council discussed ensuring kiosks conform to style standards and focus on local artisans vs. tourist trinkets, and not impede people and emergency vehicles. Town Planning said the structures would need an amendment to the master plan. Further discussions will be held with the port commission and with the council.

The Council approved a $5,000 matching grant for citizens in need to offset utility bills through the food bank‘s Harbor Life Ring Program. Julie Greene presented a Lodging Tax committee review of nine grant applications and recommended some portion for each for a total of $50k. Council approved the $50k in grants and may later consider increasing the amount as there are significant reserves.

The Council authorized the mayor to sign commitment letters for two Dept of Commerce grants of $100k each for a Town Comprehensive Plan Update and Climate Commitment Act Grant. They approved a release agreement with SJI Grange #966 for claims related to soil reclamation. They approved an interlocal agreement with District 3 for fire inspection services.

Jesse Douglas-Seitz, Public Works Director, reported the Nash Street Improvement Project light poles should be installed by Halloween, completing the project. The official ribbon cutting should occur on Nov. 8. Residents complimented M&M Construction and its employees for their courteous behavior during construction and were positive about easier access to town.

The joint letter to Washington State Ferries will be ready for town and county signature soon. Administrators Kulseth reported she and Douglas-Seitz met with Deborah Lekanoff on state funding for wastewater management. A request for S10 million for our wastewater plant and $3 million for filtering was presented. Town insurance premiums will be going up about 27% due to inflation and claims from the Spring Street fire. Next year’s rates may drop. The Journal will be doing a piece on closed businesses in the town. Denise thinks business growth will pick up in late 2023 and into 2024. A new town Facilities Manager, Andy Gutierrez, will be starting Nov. 1.