FAQ for Prune Alley as collected from public input

  • Mon Jul 20th, 2020 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by the Eastsound Planning and Review Committee.

1. How does the County “know” that Prune Alley needs to be improved?

In 1981 the First Eastsound Subarea Plan (Ord 225-1981) discussed lighting “will probably be desirable to install street lighting” in the future and included a graphic with overhead lighting. When Main Street and North Beach were designed and constructed in 1994 and 1999 EPRC and the county developed a plan for those three streets. After many public meetings, a design was approved and implemented. Taking into consideration that in 1987 it was agreed that the desire for Prune Alley was to maintain a more rustic feel and a gravel roadside path was installed knowing that in the future it would be necessary to replace it with a real sidewalk and curb. It has become necessary with cars parking in the pathway and the need for wheelchairs and motorized scooters to have a continuous smooth surface.

In 1991 the Growth Management Act was created, and it was implemented in San Juan County in 1994. The GMA required the County to plan for 50% of the growth of Orcas to take place in Eastsound. That plan is not only for housing and commercial activity but the infrastructure to accommodate that plan with roads, water, and sewer.

2. Where does the money come from to do this $4.5million, three-year project?

The project is funded by Property Taxes, Motor Vehicle Fuel Taxes, Vehicle Registration Fees, Real Estate Excise Taxes. Federal Surface Transportation Block Grants and the State Water Quality Combined Funding Program. The amount of funding from each of these sources will continually evolve throughout the project, especially during COVID budgets.

3. Who pays for project overage, if any, and maintenance after the initial funds are spent?

It would come from the County Road Fund. All road maintenance is paid out of the County Road Fund.

4. How will pedestrians crossing the street be safer with these new development plans for Prune Alley?

There will be designated crosswalks that will encourage pedestrians to cross at predictable and visible locations and nighttime crossings will be safer with lighting. It will create a smooth surface that meets the needs of people with physical and visual disabilities meeting ADA requirements. Bump outs like on Main Street and North Beach Road shorten the road crossing distance and allow people to see and be seen better when crossing. The intersections will have a brick pattern for texture and will be slightly raised to encourage slower traffic.

5. How is the county evaluating the balance between “security” and “dark skies”? Why does the public have to pay for security lighting for businesses?

The county is not providing security lighting for businesses. The county is implementing a plan that the Eastsound community has been working on for 15+ years to accommodate a safe mode of travel for all our citizens from young to old, walking and driving. With new technology and the endorsement from EPRC to adopt the International Dark Skies recommendations all the lighting that is in the proposed plan follows these guidelines. These types of fixtures are full cutoff and downward-facing, meaning that they do not shine light upward, helping to keep our skies dark. We have come a long way from the 30’ mercury vapor lights that had been installed along Prune Alley with one still remaining which was the accepted lighting at that time of their installation.

6. How will new lighting be guaranteed to protect neighbors from light flooding into their properties and destroying the dark skies of Eastsound?

All fixtures will be approved International Dark Skies fixtures with good B-U-G (Backlight, Uplight, Glare) ratings. B-U-G ratings range from 0-5. The International dark skies fixtures approve LED lighting fixtures. Within the fixture LED lights are designed to direct light in specific patterns and fixtures are easily dimmable. There are also add on shielding attachments if needed. See illustrations on the county we site https://www.sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/20750/Info—-June-25-Meeting-Presentation for individual lights. EPRC and County propose lighting fixtures meet a B-U-G standard of 2-0-2 or better.

7. What are bollard lights all about? Where are they going in? Are they going to mess up the dark skies we love in Eastsound?

The bollard lights were discussed to add lightening along the sidewalks but that is not being proposed because adding them there would mean effectively reducing the sidewalk from 5 feet wide to 4 feet wide which was a loss of usability no one wanted and the desire to not light the whole street. Only lightening at the intersections is being planned. Bollard lights do not light areas as well as overhead lights.

8. Do we need pole lighting? How high do these poles have to be? How can I “see” the height and light pattern, so I know it won’t ruin the dark skies that is so desirable in Eastsound?

With pole lighting, you need fewer fixtures which means fewer lights. Also, the prosed height is less than 16’. Preferable height discussed is between 12’ and 16’. Check out the County website to see the fixtures to show the light pattern. Again, all Dark Skies recommended fixtures. Friday Harbor’s new streetlights are approx. 24’ as reference, so we are talking about something much shorter. Basketball hoops are 10 ft tall and can be “dunked” on, we do not want them to be easily vandalized. See this rendering https://www.sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/20715/Lighting—-Rendering

9. Will out-of-compliance street lighting be removed as part of Prune Alley’s project completion?

That will be an enforcement issue when the Eastsound Sub Area and Comprehensive plan new recommendations are approved. This project is focused only on improvements within the road right of way.

10. What are the design planning standards being used to ensure Prune Alley will remain rural in character? How can we know the County will not urbanize it to look like Redmond or Edmonds or Ballard?

As part of this project, the plan has proposed local materials and artwork to retain our local village character. EPRC is providing guidance to the county on how to build this project. The “county” is not pushing a design or specific look, but the project needs function and meet the communities needs for safe pedestrian access.

11. Will our plum trees be saved?

The hope is to try to save the remaining two. If it is not possible then the hope is to replace them in a better spot. The county is incorporating requests by several property owners to save trees, by moving the sidewalk towards the road and making space to save existing trees.

12. How much parking will we lose? How is the County going to take care of the lost parking if it encourages growth through tourism and population?

EPRC is continuing to look at available land for parking.

This project will result in a loss of parking on Prune Alley due to:

1. New driveways to be installed at request of owners on undeveloped lots

2. Crosswalks at the intersections to provide safe pedestrian crossing

3. Required minimum transition space between driveways and parking stalls

4. Tree protection efforts

5. County is accepting ROW dedication, only at the request of property owners, to create angled parking stalls (angled parking requires additional ROW (Right of Way)

A previous design put forward by county aimed at maximizing parking became problematic, acquiring ROAs with the sales of properties in 2017. The project design philosophy was changed to build improvements within the existing ROW.

13. Will there be EV charging stations? How many parking spaces will they take up?

EPRC is requesting that conduit be put in the ground for EV charging. In the beginning it seemed easy to put in EV stations. However, several problems have arisen. Who pays for the electricity? The cost of a pay machine is roughly $10,000 each, maintenance is high, and the parking space can not be designated for electric cars only. Property owners are encouraged to work with OPALCO to install EV Stations off street.

14. How do sidewalks with curbs make it safer for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and parking on a narrow street?

First, the cars park next to the curb, keeping them off the sidewalk and secondly the pedestrians have a continuous safe surface to walk or use their wheelchairs and strollers. Currently, cars park in the gravel area for pedestrians.

15. Why aren’t you considering speed bumps or lighted pavers to economically control traffic and safety?

Proposed intersection design was developed to stay within the existing ROW, traditional ramps would require ROW. The intersections at Fern, Rose and School will gradually be raised to the sidewalk level, eliminating the need for pedestrian ramps. Intersections also include a change in color and texture, the hope is these secondary effects provide traffic calming. Lighted pavers are a maintenance problem and flashing lights are something that has not been allowed in Eastsound.

16. How can I still influence the county’s design, use of lights, aesthetics, saving our rural feel, and heritage plum trees? When and where are the public meetings and ways we can submit our comments and receive timely feedback?

Everybody has until July 28 to respond to EPRC and there will also be public comment by zoom at their next meeting on Thursday July 30th. Please review these two documents before responding https://www.sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/20718/Plans—-2019-Preliminary-Design and https://www.sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/20750/Info—-June-25-Meeting-Presentation

• Complete design this summer (July)

• Construction documents complete and ready for bid in September

• Bid project and select contractor this fall

• Build of phase 1 (Main to Fern) before Memorial Day 2021

17. How can I sign up for the Art on Prune Alley committee? When will it meet? What budget is there?

Because of COVID that also has been delayed so plenty of time to get involved. Email leithtemplin@hotmail.com if you would like to be involved or at the zoom meeting July 30, 2020

Please do not hesitate to send in your questions or your opinions about this project to the Eastsound Planning and Review Committee at Eastsoundplanningreview@gmail.com by July 28, 2020. You can also make public comment at the July 30 meeting by zoom.