By Meg Olson
A recent site assessment by county staff will set the stage for a long-awaited decision to be made about re-opening the Cedar Point access to the Lily Point Marine Park.
On January 12, Whatcom County parks director Michael McFarlane, operations manager Christ Thomsen, and design and development supervisor Rod Lamb visited Point Roberts with a public works geologist and “talked about the state of the site now and the natural processes that are ongoing,” Thomsen said.
The trail was closed in November 2015 due to erosion following the collapse of a tree into the gully. The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) has been putting pressure on the county to address the issue and stabilize the trail. ”Aside from closing the trail, to the best of our knowledge nothing has been done to mitigate the erosion or make changes to keep the park trail open,” the committee wrote to county executive Jack Louws in November 2016. “While we are not experts in the field it would appear if the source of the erosion, water, would have been diverted, the
expansion of the erosion could have been minimized or eliminated.”
Thomsen said McFarlane would be meeting with Louws “in the near future” to discuss their observations and make a determination.
“We really, really know what the community’s desire is, and that’s to keep that access open,” Thomsen said. “We’re balancing public safety and what will be the future of the site as it progresses.” He pointed out that today there is “just a sliver of county property remaining.”
Neighboring property owners are concerned if the county does not take some action to divert the water and curb the erosion that sliver could disappear and the water, which comes from the park, could impact their property. “Do they have a legal responsibility to fix the erosion?” asked neighboring property owner John Gallinger.
Gallinger also wondered if the county’s recent removal of the wooden walkway leading to the trail would destabilize the area further.
“It’s been on our work list to remove that structure because of its proximity to where we’re losing material,” Thomsen said. The wood from the walkway will be salvaged and used for other projects on the Point.
In their letter to Louws, PRCAC members also lamented the time it took the county to replace the dock at Lighthouse Marine park and expressed a desire to find solutions that would turn a “can’t do” response to community priorities for the county’s four parks in Point Roberts, such as a lighthouse at Lighthouse Marine Park, into “can do’s.”
Responding December 1, Louws wrote, “It is not always possible to fulfill all of the wishes of constituents as priorities are set.” County parks leadership did not mean to suggest Point Roberts projects were less important than others, he added, “they are just trying to manage the expectation and are being cautious about what is achievable.”