2017 Year in Review

January

• As various Point Roberts associations chose to replace representatives and terms expired, the board of the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PDCAC) saw some changes. Heather McPhee replaced Steve Wolff as the chamber representative, Ron Clark said he would not seek another term representing the taxpayers’ association while Keith Glading put his hat in the ring for another term as at-large member.

• Frequent snow days this winter pointed towards a later release for Blaine school district students come summer.

• Reno Ranch, the 25-acre parcel across from the golf course and the largest piece of undeveloped waterfront on the Point, sold to Vancouver investors for $3 million.

February

• A single complainant submitted reports to the county fingering 25 properties for code violations and the resulting enforcement actions had some citizens calling it a “witch hunt” and requesting PRCAC work to loosen rules for recreational vehicles and outbuildings.

• Golf course owner Kenji Nose brought on Jane Huang as an equity partner to help him revitalize the
deteriorating golf course.

• The county’s solid waste survey drew a solid response from the community. The county launched the survey to help make changes to the solid waste system to ensure stability and high service levels.

• Hospital district commissioners agreed to ask the fire district to reconsider their refusal of a new clinic sign, and to open greater dialogue with the fire district.

• Over a year after closing the Cedar Point access to the Lily Point Marine Park due to erosion, county parks staff brought up a geologist to assess whether the trailhead could feasibly be reopened.

• David Gellatly took over the chamber seat on PRCAC and the committee set a date to take a final vote on the draft character plan on Valentine’s Day.

March

• What was planned as a final look at the revised character plan by PRCAC was instead a loud contentious meeting with many audience members calling to scrap the plan entirely.

• Trader Joe’s issued a cease and desist order to two local stores demanding they stop reselling Trader Joe’s products.

• The Port of Metro Vancouver announced plans to plant eelgrass meadows between Point Roberts and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal as part of a series of planned habitat enhancements.

• Circle of Care began offering scholarships for local residents to become licensed home care aides.

• Frustrated with a lack of transparency regarding Dollars for Scholars finances, local mother Fern Peltier offered to take over the books.

• Auntie Pam’s Country Store hosted its Miniature Art Show for the fifth year as a fundraiser for the local food bank.

April

• PRCAC members were split over whether or not the character plan should stand or be repealed after the raucous “Valentine’s Day massacre,” as Jeff Christopher referred to their last meeting. In a series of meetings, the committee agreed both that plan and the section of county zoning specific to the Point needed to be merged and simplified.

• Whatcom County Park and Recreation Department announced the Cedar Point Avenue access to Lily Point Marine Park would be closed permanently.

• PRCAC unanimously endorsed a motion asking the county to look into the feasibility of a taxing district to collect fees for solid waste pickup on the Point.

• The Whatcom County Library System board reversed their practice of not funding the buildings that house their branches, and contributed $160,000 to the Point’s new library fund. Added to the $680,000 raised by the Friends of the Point Roberts Library that brought funds up to the project budget number and allowed a green light for the project to move ahead.

• Point Roberts resident PJ Minter developed an app to allow community members to give feedback about the draft character plan.

• Kiniski’s Reef Tavern acquired a new license allowing the iconic watering hole to welcome all ages to enjoy their expanding menu.

• Blue Heron Gallery owner Kitty Doyle kicked off a series of drop-in art evenings at the community center.

• Best Time RV proposed relocating to the Point and into the former Brewsters Fine Foods property.

May

• Parks district commissioners floated the idea of asking voters for a substantial jump in their maintenance and operations levy to hire a manager and boost programming.

• The Whatcom County Planning Commission, with some reluctance, agreed to recommend county council approve a PRCAC proposal to take the bulk of the character plan and move it into the zoning code, opening the way for a thorough review of the combined regulations.

• The hospital district’s request to the fire district for approval of a new sign at the clinic (which rents space at the fire station) morphed into an acrimonious brouhaha leading fire commission chair to declare the sign issue dead and ask his fellow commissioners to “treat everyone with respect.”

• Fire chief Christopher Carleton officially took on the job full time.

• With a revitalized board the local chapter of Dollars for Scholars gave a vigorous launch to their annual fundraising drive.

• Best Time RV opened the doors to its Point Roberts location on Gulf Road.

• The Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness group (PREP) approached the taxpayers’ association asking for their support in trying to get PRCAC to expand its five-person board to include a spot for PREP.

• The taxpayers’ association set up the PRborderQA@gmail.com address as a conduit for the community to get their questions and concerns to U.S. Customs and border protection.

• PREP hosted a HAM licensing event to get more community members involved in their auxiliary communications service.

June

• Whatcom County Council unanimously approved merging the existing character plan into the Title 20.72 zoning code to make community review of the two documents more flexible.

• Campobello Island in New Brunswick and Point Roberts officially became sister cities.

• Candidate filing period saw contested races only for spots on the fire district board.

• Port director George Gibson announced through members of the ad hoc border committee that the commercial lane would be staffed on weekdays in hopes to have a smoother flow of traffic at the border.

• Two adult eagles died within days of each other, both on James Road.

• Ten local students received scholarships from the local chapter of Dollars for Scholars.

• Sale of burn permits was moved from Nielson’s Building Center to the Benson Road fire station.

July

• The park board voted unanimously to put a resolution on the November ballot asking voters to approve a doubled operations and maintenance levy for the parks and recreation district.

• There were no dissenting voices in the audience as PRCAC members unanimously endorsed the concept of having a base fee for garbage and recycling included in property tax bills.

• A brazen thief stole 10 of the new lavender plants planted in front of the post office.

• Nick Kiniski celebrated 30 years as the owner of Kiniski’s Reef Tavern.

• The Point Roberts Park and Recreation District invited builders to bid on the project of transforming the old Julius fire station next to the community center into the community’s new library.

• Five Point Roberts young women graduated from high school.

• Banner Bank teller Mariah Aranda was recognized by company leaders with a Banners Best award, earned by only 4 percent of bank employees.

• A history of the Point was included on the online guide for the Cascadia Marine Trail, for which Lighthouse Marine Park is the northernmost campsite.

• Seattle Asian Medicine and Martial Arts opened a satellite location on the barge at the Point Roberts marina.

• The state closed all shellfish harvesting on the Point and beyond due to the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning.

August

• The Point Roberts golf course was sold to new owner Bald Eagle Valley Resort Holdings for $4.45 million and managing partner Coco Luo got to work quickly revitalizing the golf course.

• Local developer Wayne Knowles announced the owners of the Reno Ranch property across from the golf course planned to subdivide the property into 19 residential building lots, preserving an existing pond and the south 40 percent as open space.

• Speaking at the taxpayers’ association’s annual meeting, state senator Doug Ericksen got a rough ride from audience members calling him on the carpet as a “climate change denialist.”

• Virginia Lester was appointed to the fire district board of commissioners to fill the vacancy left after Stan Riffle resigned for health reasons.

• Sonya Liu was appointed to the park district board after the resignation of Mary Edgley.

• The Point Roberts water district agreed to look into the possibility of an irrigation rate for excess water sold to the golf course.

• A juvenile gray whale was spotted off Maple Beach.

• Faced with numerous complaints, park district commissioners looked at alternatives to the current policy of allowing dogs off-leash at Baker Field at certain times.

• PRCAC began recording their meetings and posting them on YouTube to increase public participation.

• For the first time in 20 years there was no Point Roberts Arts and Music Festival, while the Compass Rose at the marina tried to fill the void on the B.C. Day long weekend with a seafood festival and talent show.

September

• Congresswoman Suzan DelBene received a warm welcome from over 50 community members when she made her annual visit to the Point, sharing her frustration with a hamstrung legislative branch and an erratic executive in Washington, D.C.

• Members of an informal dog park group that meets to exercise their dogs off-leash at Baker Field appealed to park commissioners to insure there remains an off-leash facility.

• PRCAC members agreed to widen their scope of review, not only addressing the text of the former character plan but all of the zoning provisions specific to Point Roberts, such as recreational vehicles on undeveloped lots and the appropriateness of commercial zoning designations such as small town commercial.

• Smoke from wildfires was a reminder that dry hot weather meant high fire danger. The fire marshal declared a ban on all outdoor burning.

• Jessie Hettinga took over from Mary Edgley as the lead teacher at the Point Roberts Primary school.

• The Point Roberts park district hosted an eclipse viewing party at the community center.

• Whatcom County began modeling a mandatory garbage pickup system with a goal of having it in place by 2019.

October

• HBHansen was the low bidder to build the new library from the Julius fire station and project partners agreed to pick up different overrun items. Several community members raised concerns about the builder’s previous projects and commissioner Doug Shier resigned after fellow commissioners voted to select HBHansen as the contractor for the library project.

• The local taxpayers’ association officially endorsed the park district’s new levy request.

• Whatcom County park department plans to renovate the boardwalk at Lighthouse Marine Park this fall came with additional cuts to the size of the popular amenity. Overall, the boardwalk will be down to 8,000 square feet from the original 30,000 when the project is done.

• Management of the Compass Rose at the marina announced they would be taking over ownership of the restaurant, and launched a contest to pick a new name.

• The Whatcom Transportation Authority expanded service for the “Tuesday Taxi” so Bellingham residents could use it to visit the Point for the day, while Point Roberts residents took a trip to Bellingham.

• The deli at The International Marketplace won a Silver Platter award from the county health department for excellence in food safety.

• Local builder Alex Range’s van caught fire at the border, prompting a community fundraising drive to help him replace his tools.

• Blackfish Resort purchased the project property at 775 Marine Drive and set a goal to open by 2019.

• Roger Gookstetter took over as the chef for the senior center.

November

• Needing a supermajority and a high turnout to get their levy passed, park district commissioners emphasized the funds were not for the library project but for a part-time manager, continued operations, healthy reserves and expanded programming.

• The candidates’ night sponsored by the Point Roberts Registered Voters’ Association was well attended both by candidates and voters. In a surprise move, fire district commission candidate Judson Meraw said he was suspending his campaign as he felt sitting commissioner Bill Meursing had addressed the factors that had led Meraw to run.

• Fire chief Christopher Carleton told commissioners it was time to start looking at funding options to replace the department’s aging equipment.

• The hospital district passed a state audit with flying colors.

• PRCAC supported the county health department’s suggestion that data from which properties have a septic permit would be used to craft the list of properties subject to mandatory trash collection, with a minimum service level of a 32-gallon can and recycling every other week.

• Point Roberts Press raked in a record 25 awards from the Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association.

• Local resident Mark Swenson published Point Roberts Backstory, a comprehensive new history of the Point.

• The marina began dredging the entrance channel, a long-delayed improvement to allow access to the boat basin at all tide levels. The operation drew criticism from neighbors as the dredged material will be temporarily stored on land west of Marine Drive and north of Edwards Drive. The land is dedicated for public recreation use as part of the marina permitting from 1970.

• Unity Care NW celebrated six months of behavioral health services at the local clinic.

• Construction began to transform the Julius fire station into a new library.

• PREP received an $18,000 grant from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation for the purchase of a disaster response trailer.

December

• The park levy passed with a 70 percent yes vote and a hefty turnout coming in late counted ballots. Bill Meursing was reelected to the fire district board of commissioners. Pat Harper was newly elected replacing appointed commissioner Shannon Tomsen whose term was marked by contentious relations between the fire district and hospital district.

• Park commissioners voted unanimously to suspend the off-leash policy at Baker Field following a bite incident and growing complaints of accumulating poop, but agreed dogs could still be off leash on the park trails. The district will continue to work with dog owners to find a feasible location and funding for a fenced dog park.

• Workers began demolition of the boardwalk at Lighthouse Marine Park.

• New owners of the Compass Rose restaurant at the marina announced the new name for the business: Breakwaters Bar and Grill.

• Paved shoulders for better pedestrian and bicycle safety on Point Roberts roads was the top suggestion as members of the taxpayers’ association prioritized what they would like to see local gas tax fund.

• Blue Heron Gallery owner Kitty Doyle announced that after 24 years the gallery would close its doors on Christmas Eve.

• Dollars for Scholars and the Point Roberts Food Bank asked the community to make a contribution to their fundraising drives part of their holiday giving.

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