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Friday Harbor Town Council members concerned Mayor is not a team player

LWVSJ Observer Corps* summary of Friday Harbor Town Council's March 7, 2024 meeting. 

Four citizens, one Home Trust board member and the Home Trust Executive Director asked the Town Council to review its decision requiring the Home Trust to carry out street upgrades to Holly Place. One person, speaking on behalf of the neighbors to the Holli Walk development, said none of the polled families wanted the changes. A tenant of the Holli Walk development said she did not want the upgrades and that they would encroach too close to her home.  One member questioned the lack of required amenities at a project on Purple Lane. The board member said the town should accept what was in the town-approved site plan. The Executive Director noted Holly Place is a short, dead-end alley, the neighbors oppose the changes, and that funds required could instead fund another new home. The Town Director of Planning said code enforcement was ongoing at Purple Lane.

The Council agreed to reopen the variance process for Holli Walk further discussion later in March. The planning director said that aside from the street upgrade matters, there were 22 other items that needed to be completed for the town to issue the final occupancy permit. 

Council members expressed consternation at a letter the mayor sent to the San Juan County Council in response to a letter from a county employee over a site-specific water issue. The council and mayor had agreed to send a letter on the matter, drafted by the mayor and reviewed by the council. The mayor, without council review, sent a letter, the contents of which council members deemed unprofessional, inappropriate, and likely to harm the town’s relationship with the county. They further expressed concern about a joint letter from ferry-served locales to the state legislature that the mayor was aware of and signed but did not inform council members about although they were also requested signatories. Council members said the mayor too often acted alone, failed to share information, and was not a team player. The mayor defended his actions, saying that purely administrative matters with no legislative element were his responsibility and within his power to act on unilaterally. He requested that town council members not talk to town staff without informing him, which at least one council member declined to do.

The San Juan County Land Bank gave the council an update on their activities saying they hoped to have a trail linking Linde Park to Beaverton Valley Marsh open this summer.  It will take longer to link the trail up with the one that now exists to the Marsh from Halvorson Road as a trail across the marsh will be complicated and expensive. They will be opening six miles of new trail on Cady Mountain and putting in a trailhead on Three Corner Lake Road. At Zylstra they are acting to better manage nutrient rich runoff which has been going into the lake and False Bay.

The FCS group is working on a utility rate study for the town.  Their staff gave the town council a presentation on what is involved in a utility rate study including choosing goals and policy considerations; reviewing operating costs, debt service and capital costs as well as forecasts, and an analysis of how rates are allocated among customer classes.  

*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.   

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