The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) meeting ended with another explosive exchange between chair Arthur Reber and Point Roberts Registered Voters Association representative Dwayne Hunt, with Hunt again storming out and effectively ending the meeting due to lack of quorum.
“I’m not arguing with you!” Hunt said on his way out of the October 9 meeting that had featured arguments about everything
from Maple Beach parking to the perennial question of what to spend gas tax dollars on.
Reber reported county engineers would be on the Point this month to assess Marine Drive as it turns the corner onto Edwards Drive near Lighthouse Marine Park, where the committee has recommended adding a multi-use path adjacent to the roadway. At this time, the path is the only item that has the support of all committee members. The funds need to be targeted to transportation-related projects.
From the audience, Renée Coe said she had spoken with county engineers about the issue of designated public parking areas at Maple Beach and their position was that “this committee come up with a solution that is agreeable to all parties, which is difficult in all circumstances in Point Roberts.”
Coe said that the right of way on Roosevelt Road was 60 feet wide, and the arterials running perpendicular to Bayview Drive were 40 feet wide, which left ample room for parking, but many property owners blocked access to the shoulder in front of their homes or put up no parking signs. “Maple Beach is a public beach,” she said. “There aren’t designated public parking places. I want to see designated public parking so people know where they can park.”
Several Maple Beach residents attended the meeting to state their opinion that there was not a parking problem there. “The beach has been the busiest it’s ever been and we’ve never seen a car driving around trying to find somewhere to park,” said Carol Fowler, who lives on Bayview Drive. “There are many places to park. They just aren’t designated.”
Committee member Jennifer Urquhart suggested the Maple Beach property owners association could play a role as the county had made it clear that while property owners did not have the right to put up no parking signs or block the right-of-way, it didn’t want to take on enforcing the right-of-way. “It seems to me since the county has expressed a reluctance to enforce keeping the right-of-way clear, perhaps the association could inform their membership about the no parking signs and we could have voluntary cooperation,” she suggested.
Hunt presented a letter signed by Elizabeth Lantz, president of the Point Roberts Registered Voters Association (PRRVA), which Hunt represents on PRCAC, regarding the use of gas tax funds. Lantz wrote that the association endorses using the funds for a path at Lighthouse Marine Park and increased signage to address specific issues, such as shared roadways. The association does not endorse a proposed “parklet” at the end of Gulf Road, expansion of parking at Maple Beach or “any proposed beautification” without the consultation of the garden club, chamber of commerce, and other “concerned groups.”
Urquhart, who represents the chamber of commerce, said the idea of a park at the end of Gulf Road was not high on the list of priorities for spending gas tax dollars. “Providing safe walking and riding is a higher priority,” she said.
Lantz also stated the association did not favor using the funds for landscaping at Julius fire station, a proposal not yet before the committee but which Judy Ross was scheduled to present later in the agenda. “The voters’ association is already opposed to an idea that just occurred to me,” Ross said. She suggested when the fire station is converted to a new library, gas tax funds could be used to create a small park between the building and the road.
Reber suggested rigidity from PRRVA was hampering the committee’s ability to get things done. “We’re probably over $600,000 in this fund and we’re gaining it at $700 per month and we haven’t spent it on anything,” despite over a year of committee discussion. “We can do these things,” he said. “That’s why I bristle when you tell me you guys are all against doing anything to improve the quality of life on the Point!”
“If you don’t like it, too bad,” Hunt said. He said he would stick with the association’s positions as outlined in Lantz’s letter. “She is the president of the voters’ association who has spoken to people regarding this.”
“While we are arguing about these things the fund keeps going up,” Urquhart said. “Maybe we need to look forward at projects that could cost a million.” Reber suggested the Complete Streets program, which Hunt had been scheduled to present at the meeting but asked to postpone, might be that project.
As tension between Reber and Hunt mounted the agenda was derailed during a discussion of terms of office for committee members and whose positions might expire next year. Hunt’s departure prevented discussion on an agenda item to explore “legislative action to modify conditions for use” of the funds, or perhaps “a special, local tax initiative.” The committee’s next scheduled meeting is November 20 at 7 p.m. at the community center.