Bittersweet Celebration

Before the celebration of completed sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and storm water drainage on Prune Alley a bit of history is in order. I do not want to rain on parades, but it is long past time to address the sad and upsetting tale of my experience with San Juan County government here in Eastsound, two blocks away from the soon to be completed project.

As part of my single-family residential building project, the home in which I now live, I was forced by the County to build out storm water drainage, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. These were to be built in the public right of way on two sides of my home at the corner of Madrona St. and Rose St. This all came about mid-project as I was trying to finish my home and terminate the interim construction loan. Each day was costly. After a myriad of emails and letters attempting to communicate with County officials, I was finally able to meet with the Director of Public Works, as well as my engineer, on site. The Director of Public Works stated that if I did not undertake the cost and construction, he would “shut down my project”. To be clear, there was no ordinance or law that required that I build in public right of way – outside the boundaries of my lot. However, facing the fear of more delays in permitting, and thus more cost, I felt forced to comply with the demand.

This experience came at a huge financial and emotional cost to me. Financially it amounts to approximately $70,000. In stark contrast, property owners on Prune Alley (including a former County Councilor) will face no cost for the Prune Alley “beautification”. Now, six years later, the stark contrast between my experience and that of the Prune Alley landowners is clear.

Two blocks away, I wonder if this costly wrong will ever be righted?

Susan Mustard