By Meg Olson
The Lighthouse Marine Park dock might get a month in the water this year, if ongoing delays to fixing the failed dock are resolved in coming weeks.
The dock failed last summer after only a month in service under moderate sea conditions and the county, the manufacturer and the design engineer are sharing the cost of fixing the problem.
The dock was originally scheduled to be repaired and reinstalled in June, but the project has been bedeviled by delays in material deliveries and the need for further modifications to the docks to ensure they don’t fail again.
“I think I’ve tackled the few remaining issues on this project,” said Rod Lamb, design and development supervisor for Whatcom County Parks and Recreation. “We had to make a modification to one of the salvaged parts off the old dock. It’s a small modification and the manufacturer will cover the cost with a local fabricator.”
Lamb said their intention was to install the dock in the first weeks of August. It will come back out for the winter in mid September.
In other county parks news, Lamb said the current assessment of the Cedar Point entrance to the Lily Point Marine Park was that the area has stabilized and was not in danger of further sliding at this time.
“There will be a staff evaluation this fall to look at several fixes,” he said. “It’s an important access and it’s our intention to preserve it, but there may be property line issues.”
The Cedar Point entrance has been closed since last November after erosion due to surface water flow caused a tree to topple into the gully. The tree’s root structure extended under part of the trail raising the possibility of further collapse. The trail would require rerouting around the weakened area while the seasonal water flow would need to be mitigated in some fashion to prevent or limit further erosion.
As it stands now, a number of large cedars are precariously perched on the edge of the gully in danger of collapse and pulling more of the upland into the gully with them.
During the rainy season, there is significant surface runoff into the gully that undermines soil stability. A number of homeowners along the east bluff have installed downpipes to control runoff; the county may need to follow suit in order to retain the Cedar Point access to the Lily Point trail system. Even though the trail is marked closed with signage and tape, the entrance continues to be frequently used by cyclists and walkers.
The Point Roberts Taxpayers Association has expressed its concern that the entrance needs to be preserved. “We tend to lose things like a separate entrance to the park. One way or another, the county should find a way to maintain that entrance. Once they get the dock completed, they should work on restoring the trail,” said association president Mark Robbins in a March board meeting.
Referring to the storm water that is causing erosion to the gully, committee member Pat Harper said it was the county’s responsibility to control drainage. The board agreed to follow up with county personnel and keep the issue on the front burner.
After the trail entrance was closed, county parks management said they would consider options at the end of the rainy season.
“We’re letting it kind of stabilize,” county parks director Michael McFarlane said back in February. “The game plan is to wait until the end of the rainy season and play it by ear. If rains bring about further erosion, it will influence what is possible in terms of reconnecting the trail, from rerouting it to spanning the gully. We don’t have a lot of property there,” McFarlane said. “We may end it altogether.”
Given that the rainy season has long ended and that fall is typically when the rains begin again, anxious trail users might expect another year of inaction on the trailhead.