Gas tax to help maintain tree planting on Tyee

After some grumbling, funds from the local gas tax will be used to help maintain plantings along Tyee Drive following approval by the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC).

“I’ve never been a fan of using Transportation Benefit District (TBD) funds for beautification because I think it’s the fastest way to fritter away our money,” said PRCAC member Linda Hughes at the committee’s March 13 meeting.

PRCAC chair Jeff Christopher endorsed a proposal by the local garden club to use a portion of the funds to pay for a landscaping company to maintain the plantings, saying the TBD was not a “black top or bust fund.”

TBD funds were first used 20 years ago to put in the trees along Tyee Drive from Benson Road to Gulf Road; over the years the plantings have been improved in collaboration with Whatcom County Public Works but have become too much for garden club volunteers to maintain, said garden club president Scott Hackleman. “The garden club has sort of become an unpaid arm of public works,” he said.

Hughes argued the TBD fund was intended for bigger projects such as the widening of Benson Road to improve pedestrian safety and replacement of the seawall at Maple Beach to correct seasonal flooding. Hughes said the Birch Bay seawall replacement took years and millions of dollars, but that Point Roberts needed to start somewhere and the TBD funds could be a way to leverage further support from county state and federal agencies. “My position is, we need to have patience, be strong, pick a real project and stop pissing it away on small ideas,” she said.

Hackleman agreed that beautification projects could be “a bottomless pit” but that the current proposal was finite, would impact less than 1 percent of the TBD funds over three years, and was protecting an investment the fund had already made.

“We need to push and push for Benson Road and the seawall and overall, I don’t think we should use TBD funds for beautification, but I think it would be a mistake not to maintain this small piece of civilization in Point Roberts,” committee member David Gellatly said.

Hughes agreed to support use of TBD funds for the specific project on the floor and the motion passed unanimously.

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