San Juan County Public Works’ pathway along Lovers Lane from Main Street to Enchanted Forest Way will be completed by 2019, contingent on funding.
That was one of the many planned improvements to the village discussed at the Eastsound Planning Review Committee meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4, when the commission reviewed its 2018 work plan.
“We have sub-groups and sub-chairs that we’ll be hearing from today about their plan, their subcommittee’s plan, for working on solutions,” said EPRC Co-chairman Paul Kamin. “These are recommendations that came from the visioning process, were community tested in the survey and now we have folks who are working on refining those proposals to present to the county for future action.”
Also in attendance were County Councilman Rick Hughes and Community Development Director Erika Shook. Topics included the uncoordinated flow of traffic leaving A Street, the Eastsound Subarea Plan, open spaces, public spaces, housing and more.
Tthere aren’t any public lots to turn a vehicle around at the end of A Street. Drivers must use private lots at places like the athletic center, the post office and Sea View Theater to make a U-turn. A resolution for this area was ranked as “a priority” to survey respondents.
“The county has identified [A Street] as a problem in Eastsound for an extended period of time,” Kamin said. “There’s community support for that. Can we put this on the radar?”
Kamin shared a design idea for constructing a roundabout and a small parking lot on a property next to the post office. He said the landowner is open to working with the county to get a project started before development of the property obstructs that option.
“County, would you please have staff keep an eye on this property and prepare some thoughts as to what the solution might be before the property becomes developed and another alternative option for resolving that problem is lost?” Kamin said. “Previously there had been a design to extend A Street all the way to Lover’s Lane. Every lot on Lover’s Lane is now developed and that option has been lost.”
In the county’s six-year transportation improvement program, adopted in November 2016, $1 million was allotted to street improvement to “integrate considerations for parking, lighting, landscaping, pedestrian and accessibility accommodations, utility relocations and storm drain improvements.” Construction is projected for 2022 and 2023.
EPRC Commissioner Margaret Payne presented her subcommittee’s research on open spaces. On her list of things for discussion this year is to address the future of Crescent Beach; near-shore waters of Fishing and Ship Bays; nature-based stormwater management and protection of Eastsound swale; the future of the Fern Street lot; maintaining lighting standard that encourages dark skies; preserving Victory Hill; and establishing a well-defined trail system.
“Our group focused on everything in the survey that had more than a 50 percent survey approval,” Payne said. “We can see that our community deeply values our environment – which is why we live here.”
A big-ticket item in the visioning meetings and survey was the enhancement of trails. Currently, several informal trails in the village could become an official trail system including signage and a map, Payne explained. Hughes suggested seeking lodging tax funding to help pay for enhanced trail development.
EPRC Commissioner Yonatan Aldort is leading the group investigating the use of public areas including a public playground structure.
“There has been some opposition to anything in the [Village] Green,” said Hughes, who offered to help Aldort in preparing information to provide to county parks. “There hasn’t been a huge desire to have a play structure anywhere in San Juan County Parks but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be there.”
Hughes said Orcas Island School District staff is considering expanding its existing playground structure for community use once April’s Grove affordable housing community is built and the track is constructed.
The group also briefly touched on community lighting initiative, affordable housing and the planned trail from Washington Federal to Lavender Hollow along Lover’s Lane. EPRC was awarded a public facilities grant to build the pathway.
Kamin would like to meet with county engineer Colin Huntemer to begin planning in February and has a timeline for completing the design and getting authorizations, permits, easements and materials over the summer.
“In September, after the summer is over, we hope to begin construction,” said Kamin. “We’re hoping to have the trail open by our November meeting. We’re going to get it done this year.”