Year in Review 2015: Point Roberts Lighthouse Society

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By Mark Robbins

2015 was a year of ups and downs for the Point Roberts Lighthouse Society (PRLS).

Based on a 2012 legal determination by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation that the society could build the proposed Point Roberts Lighthouse privately and then gift it to the county, thereby avoiding the significantly higher costs of a pubic works project implemented by the county, PRLS had proceeded with design work and fundraising.

By early 2015, the society had near-final building plans, a preliminary cost estimate and financial guarantees of $500,000 in place. A revised draft MOU was presented to the county reflecting these understandings; but unfortunately by this time, the county had a new legal determination that we could not avoid treating the construction as a public works project.

Whatcom County Parks and Recreation laid out numerous steps and requirements that would have to be met, at costs far exceeding the society’s financial capacity.

On December 8, members of the Lighthouse Society’s board of directors made a presentation to Whatcom County Council’s public works committee, asking for the county’s support for the project, both in principle and through partial funding.

The committee unanimously passed a motion recommending conceptual support, and the full council followed through with a unanimous motion authorizing its legislative analyst to draft a resolution of support.

We look forward to working with Whatcom County in 2016 to develop a genuine partnership that includes tangible financial support for the proposed Point Roberts lighthouse, whale watching observatory and multi-use facility.

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