Community Treasures seeks donations to maintain non-profit

Submitted by Barry Trask

2018 Community Treasures President

Friday Harbor Grange 225

Community Treasures has been struggling for 14-plus years to have the property it is operating on designated as “conforming” through a land use designation change with San Juan County. Since 2011 — when CT became a formal 501(c)(3) public charity — CT has received promises from the county to change the land use designation. CT has expended a lot of time, energy and money trying to become a permanent facility. In 2018, the question of whether CT can continue as a community treasure will be decided.

It all comes down to CT finding enough funds to take advantage of the one-third donation offer that would help allow permanency through the purchase of the property on which CT operates. At least two things need to happen before the end of 2018:

1) Funds need to come in to show community support for a proposed purchase, or enough funds have to be earned to pay for the property.

2) The property’s land use designation has to be changed to “rural general use,” so the activities can become legally conforming. Non-conforming, by definition of the Department of Ecology, is elimination over time. This is done mostly through regulatory costs and changes.

San Juan County Council member Bill Watson told the Community Treasures Board in a spring 2017 joint meeting, that the CT land use issue was on the county planning department’s agenda through the Comprehensive Plan update, and that he would personally work for and “shepherd” the land use re-designation process to completion.

In the meantime, CT has been reorganizing some of its activities and business procedures. CT no longer does e-recycling, and it is scaling back its other recycling activities, due to the non-conforming issues and the fact that there is a for-profit business, Lauts, doing the majority of San Juan Island’s recycling. CT is now focusing mostly on “re-use” and education.

To increase income to show if CT can purchase the property, CT has raised recycling costs and thrift shop prices. CT also is eliminating much of its cash donation activities, as well as the free material item donations to local nonprofit organizations. If an organization would like to obtain free items from CT, there are two avenues to consider:

1) An organization could show that it is substantially supporting CT, via helping with fundraising efforts or by supplying volunteer labor caring for an area of the thrift shop.

2) By having a representative of their nonprofit organization involved with, and a member of Friday Harbor Grange 225, which is involved in coordination efforts with CT.

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