Capital improvements: Friday Harbor’s largest commitment | Guest column

Submitted by Duncan Wilson

Town of Friday Harbor Administrator

Year after year, the services and responsibilities undertaken by the Town of Friday Harbor grow as population and business activity increase. Beyond daily town operations that include administration, finance, and community development, our most expensive and complex duties involve the construction, reconstruction, and improvements related to our capital infrastructure. These costs are vast, and our needs never-ending. The Town has finite revenues from which to work, and therefore must prioritize, save, and battle for dwindling grants from state and federal sources. The current cost estimate for capital projects needed in the next 8 years exceeds $40,000,000.

Discussions relating to mandated and necessary capital infrastructure projects will occur more often and the Town will require the understanding and cooperation of our residents and business owners. The need for additional revenue is growing and, unfortunately, is inverse to the availability of grant funding from outside sources. It is important to note that these projects are to benefit the entire community and are designed to make our lives here better.

We have made great progress over the last eight years in tackling the challenges of maintaining and building our streets, water, and sewer systems. Much if not most of this work would not have been possible without dedicated and constant efforts to earn major grant funding.

While many projects can easily be seen, not so obvious are the critical improvements to the underground utility systems that guarantee us fresh water and protect us from disastrous sewer and stormwater events. The following are examples of the work completed throughout Town during the past eight years:

Energy improvements — Street light conversion to LED, energy efficiency upgrades to Town offices and plants, and installation of a large solar array at the wastewater treatment plant.

Parks improvements — Addition of Breezeway (pocket) Park on Spring Street, a tot play lot at Sunken Park, and holiday lights in the elms at Memorial Park. Resurfacing of athletic courts in Sunken and Cahail Parks and a refurbish of Overlook Park.

Water improvements — Complete replacement of the water transmission line from the dam to town, the addition of a water plant emergency power generator, and replacement of a Spring Street water main.

Sewer improvements — Major improvements to the plant’s pre-treatment “headworks,” the addition of tertiary filtration and conveyor belt system, and complete replacement of major sewer mains on Spring and Blair.

Street improvements — Full reconstruction of Blair and Tucker Avenues; roundabout traffic improvement at Spring and Argyle; new sidewalks on Park, Reed, Web, and Nichols Streets and Marguerite Place; widening of sidewalks near the Fairgrounds on Argyle Avenue; improved safety measures at the Spring and Lampard crossing; and the addition of flashing light crosswalks.