A parks district potpourri ...


A local business that has been holding cooking classes at the community center may no longer do so after the parks district board discovered that the classes were being held in discrepancy with county health department and current community center rules. The county limits usage of the kitchen while the parks rule states that only the senior lunch and food bank are allowed access to the community center kitchen.

During the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District regular meeting on January 8, board member Allison Calder provided an explanation of health department rules.

“According to Philip Martinez from the Whatcom County Health Department, the repair that was done on the septic system was only designed and allows for senior lunch, food bank, emergencies, and would allow permits for events that have historically happened under the old system such as the pancake breakfast.

“Anything else that we want to use the kitchen for we would not be able to do, especially anything to do with jams and baking because of the change in the effluent level when you add that much sugar. We are in violation of the mandate that we have been given from the health department for the use of the kitchen,” Calder said.

Until the park department decides to upgrade the septic system, the kitchen will not be available to rent.

Concerns over inequity regarding rental agreements and use of the kitchen have continued to be brought to the parks board. Your Local Small Market, also known as the Saturday Market, which takes place bi-weekly in the summer and has pop-up markets throughout the off season, has been discussed at the past two board meetings concerning its inclusivity and adherence to fee waiver rules imposed by the parks district.

“The current organizer decides who to include or not, but if this is a public event, shouldn’t it be more inclusive,” board member Matt Wang asked.

In response, board chair Stephen Falk said, “As long as they are meeting our terms, I don’t think we want to tell them who to have and who not to have. We don’t want to be telling other people how to run their market.” 

The board was unsure of whether the Saturday Market is meeting the terms of the rental fee waiver agreement. The current rental fee waiver statement says that the board “has the authority to reduce or waive fees if it deems it reasonable due to reciprocity or other factors in the interest of the district and the community. Saturday markets, seasonal festivals, and their vendors shall be exempt from fees if they provide free space and/or a stipend to one of the local non-profit groups.

“We have to avoid being arbitrary about how we apply such a relatively vague rule, but if we are good about how we do it, the current rule would allow us to look at what the overall project is and reduce or waive the fee if we think that is in the interest of the park district or community as a whole,” Falk said.

The market has not recently been asked to show proof of such donations. The organizer of the market did not respond to the All Point Bulletin’s request for comment.

EV Charging Grant a No Go 

In November, a motion was passed during a special meeting of the parks district to apply for a Washington State Department of Commerce grant for three electric vehicle chargers (two slow and one fast). The grant would have provided partial reimbursement for the chargers, and the district approved $25,000 to cover costs not covered by the grant.

Subsequently, the district was told by Puget Sound Energy that the chargers would require a significant upgrade to the transformer that serves the community center. The cost for a new transformer would be around $50,000 which would be charged to the district. “It’s looking less likely that we will be able to pull that off, which is unfortunate,” said Falk. 

Security cameras to deter theft 

Items have been reported missing from the kitchen of the community center. Senior lunch cook Rhonda Granger commented, “I like to say taken instead of stolen.” The items include a metal mixing bowl, serving spoons, a box of soy sauce packets, and a box of Asian salad dressing packets.

Whoever took the items knew the code to access the building. The parks board has since changed the code, purchased surveillance cameras and is moving forward with a security system that will have cloud storage of the data that it records.

A motion was passed to approve up to $200 a year for cloud storage of the data for the security cameras. If you have the items or have any information, contact the parks department.


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