By Meg Olson
Once again, the boardwalk at Lighthouse Marine Park will be chopped down by almost half when the county begins renovating it this fall.
“The project was initially to keep the footprint we have now,” Rod Lamb, design and development supervisor with Whatcom County Park and Recreation told the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee at their September 12 meeting. In 2015, the deck was cut in half after a large portion of the 30,000 square foot deck was deemed unsafe.
When the project was bid in July, both bids came in over the $200,000 budget “by a considerable amount” so the project was scaled back and rebid, Lamb said. “The only way we could do it was to reduce the footprint,” he said. “You can’t really change materials and get the reduction in cost you need.”
The objective of the redesign was to maintain access to the concession and the restrooms and maintain as many picnic shelters as possible. The new design will reduce the size of the boardwalk to 8,000 square feet, retaining the picnic shelters closest to the water. The deck around the picnic shelters across from the concession will be removed but the shelters will be retained with gravel surfacing. Steps will be added to lead down from the boardwalk.
Structural improvements will include foundation work, new decking and a composite coating to the boardwalk to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.
The new bid package received four bids with the apparent low bidder HBHansen coming in within the project budget.
Lamb said they expect to finalize a contract in October for council approval with a proposed start date in November. “We are looking for substantial completion by the end of the year,” he said.
High and dry after the first reduction of the boardwalk footprint, the Orca Center’s fate is still unknown. Lamb suggested the building may be “beyond repair.” A new playground is planned for the remainder of the area where the first boardwalk removal occurred.
During the meeting, audience member Mark Robbins asked if the county had any intention of replacing the whale-watching platform that was the first casualty of the shrinking facility. “That sort of dovetails with the lighthouse,” Lamb said, referring to a proposal from the Point Roberts Lighthouse Society.
The proposed lighthouse, supported by a pledge of $500,000 from society members Dorothy and Darrell Sutton, has met with little enthusiasm from county executive Jack Louws, who has insisted the county could not put a dime into the project.
County council endorsed the project in a March 2016 meeting and directed county staff to work with the society to scale the project, estimated by parks staff at $1.2 million, to a closer fit with the budget. Council member Barbara Brenner said she wanted to retain the option of helping fund the project.
With no action by the county executive or county parks, Robbins said the lighthouse society was “very pessimistic” the project would ever move forward under the current county administration.