Islanders gathered last week to discuss topics like kiosks, storm water work and road improvements.
The Eastsound Planning and Review Committee’s open house was held on Oct. 16 at the Orcas Senior Center. All three councilmen and the county manager were also in attendance to meet and greet islanders.
“We want to bridge the gap between the county and the public,” said committee chairman Gulliver Rankin.
One table at the open house offered a survey to the public about their interest in Eastsound kiosks, which includes food trucks, trailers or parked trucks with advertising.
The first step the committee is taking is sending out a survey. The next step for the committee is to work on specifying what kiosk can go where if many people are in favor of having them.
County code does not allow drive-throughs in Eastsound except banks, post offices and the ferry. Also no vending is allowed on public sidewalks, but you can vend on your own store front. Kiosks can be located on private property like the coffee shop and the farm stand near Hogstone, the ice cream truck across from the public restrooms and the whale watching booth near Brown Bear Bakery.
As far as kiosks on county property, Rankin said, “Basically kiosks are not prohibited and they are not approved.”
Committee member Ken Katz said that on one side kiosks are great for business, but other restaurants who have to pay for rent year-round may be troubled by the competition of an influx of mobile structures that may only be seasonal eateries.
Storm water construction is projected to occur the first week of November. The project starts from behind the theater to A street, stopping before the building that houses Portofino’s, the video store and the Village Stop.
“The biggest disruption will be with people trying to get to the post office,” said the county’s civil engineer Dan Vekved. “That’s our biggest challenge – to figure out how people will get their mail.”
Next year the county plans to complete storm water construction from the Village Stop to North Beach Road.
There are also likely road improvement projects happening on the corners of Prune Alley in 2014.
Bigger projects, like the enlargement of Nordstrom Lane, make Katz question how road improvement plans impact the rural character of the island.
“We are working on getting the county to be clear on all upcoming projects,” Rankin added.
Orcas Councilman Rick Hughes spoke with several islanders at the open house about the possibility of having a marijuana dispensary in the village.
He said it would be nice to find a way for islanders to grow, process and sell it on the island.
“I want to see residents have a chance with this business opportunity,” Hughes said.
He also talked about how he hopes that in the future county code will allow alcohol to be manufactured in the village for places like the brewery or distilleries.
“It’s a way to celebrate local farm crafted items in this community and makes us a cool place to visit,” he said.