News Flash

County Council

Posted on: May 9, 2023

Council Meeting Review: May 9, 2023

This meeting on Shaw Island included discussions about Public Works projects, Parks and Fair updates, Sheriff's Office news, rural health services, and more.

This document is a review of the County Council meeting, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Information related to agenda changes, Consent Agenda, and Public Comment are on the County website. For additional information about what was discussed, please refer to the recording.  

1. Discussion: Roads impacted by Sea Level and Drainage @ Blind Bay, Neck Point, Park.; Colin Huntemer, Public Works Director, Kendra Smith, Environmental Stewardship Director

Colin Huntemer and Kendra Smith addressed Shaw Islanders on multiple issues including: 

  • Sea Level Rise: The Environmental Stewardship Department started a project to look a sea level rise. The County has hired consultants to look at storm surge, total water elevation (different than floodplain maps), saltwater intrusion, and model possible outcomes of sea level rise across the County.
  • The Environmental Stewardship Department has also identified Blind Bay on Shaw as an area that experiences frequent flooding and is working on plans to protect the local environment and essential infrastructure.  
  • The Public Works Department is partnering with WSF on terminal improvement projects on Orcas and plans to re-engage WSF regarding ferry terminal improvement projects on Shaw Island.
  • Several culverts are in need of repair on Shaw Island which will be addressed this year and a chip seal paving program is planned for 2024.  

2. Discussion: Post Office Services

Council member Jane Fuller gave an update on major post office challenges on Shaw Island. They wrote a letter to federal representatives (Murray, Larsen, and Cantwell) in February.  Staff in Washington DC are working with USPS. Council member Fuller is working with USPS reps to find solutions to Shaw Island’s postal service.

3. Discussion: Sheriff, Homeless and Mentally Ill Camping in Park; Eric Peter, Sheriff, Kim Ott, Chief Civil Deputy

The Sheriff provided several updates regarding the Sheriff’s Office operations including:  

  • The Office is prioritizing community engagement, including coffee with a cop events and brown bag lunches. 
  • The Office is increasing its presence on Shaw Island per requests from the community. 
  • The Office is prioritizing training including Animal Control Training, the Washington State Narcotics Investigator Course, and a Risk Management Use of Force Class.   

The Sheriff compared calls for service from 2022 to 2023. In 2022, the Office received 50 total calls for service. 62% of those calls were fire or EMS related. 11 calls were accidental and 36% reported were possible crimes. So far in 2023, the Office has received 17 calls for service. 12 of the calls were law-related and 25% of those were about a crime. The Sheriff said that he hopes that the deputy presence on Shaw has built better relationships and that it helps control traffic issues. 

He also introduced the new TIP411 app that allows users to both send and receive information to and from the Sheriff’s Office.  

4. Discussion: Ferries and Ferry Parking; Colin Huntemer, Public Works Director

The Public Works Department is planning to re-engage WSF regarding ferry terminal improvement projects on Shaw Island. The Ferry Advisory Committee includes a representative from Shaw Island and continues to advocate for improved service throughout the islands.

5. Discussion: Public Dock Space; Colin Huntemer, Public Works Director

The Orcas dock float is being replaced and fabricated in Friday Harbor. It will be installed soon and will provide improved access to Orcas Island for Shaw Islanders. The Derelict Vessel Program was also discussed, which recently removed three vessels from Blind Bay on Shaw.  

6. Discussion: Senior Services / Rural Health; Mark Tompkins, Health & Community Services Director

The Health and Community Services Director Mark Tompkins presented on topics of affordable housing, senior services, and rural health. 

Affordable Housing projects fall under the Health and Community Services Department. Projects on the three main islands are underway include: 

  • Housing Lopez is working on a 15-unit rental facility in Lopez Village. 
  • The Lopez Community Land Trust is working on home ownership projects. 
  • On San Juan Island, The Home Trust is building 8 new homes on Price Street 
  • The County is working with the Home Trust to build upwards of 40 units on Argyle Street in Friday Harbor. 
  • Orcas Island’s OPAL is working on a ten-home homeownership program.  

 Access to healthcare continues to be an issue throughout the islands. Rural health projects include: 

  • The department bought a van to provide mobile services to the community. The Luci B Community Wellness Van will be used to provide immunizations and other essential services to school children, the elderly, and those without regular care. 
  • The transportation voucher program is for low-income individuals that provides ferry fares and taxi rides to go off-island for medical care.   
  • The Department is compiling a Community Health Assessment county-wide that includes testimonies from the community and will lead to an improvement plan. The department will return to Shaw in the fall to solicit input. 

Senior services in San Juan County are operated thanks to partnerships with non-profits. There is not a senior center on Shaw Island. Staff within the existing three senior centers can provide information, assistance, and referrals for programs and resources to anyone in need. Support programs are a popular service and held via zoom and in-person. 

7. Discussion: Parks & Fair Department Updates; Brandon Cadwell, Parks and Fair Director

Parks and Fair Director Brandon Cadwell shared about innovations at the County Fair. 

  • The Fair went virtual in 2020 and 2021 and enjoyed more participation form other islands. Staff are working to maintain that level of participation.  
  • The Fair is working to eliminate barriers to entry and participation. This means making online entry possible and offering central pick-up locations on each island. 

County Parks have been busy with capital project.  

  • Eastsound Village green on Orcas Island 
  • Lopez village bathrooms on Lopez Island 
  • Shark reef bathrooms on Lopez Island 
  • New toilet at Eagle Cove on San Juan Island 
  • Fairgrounds bathrooms 
  • On Shaw Island, the staff is finishing the permitting process to give the stairs a sturdy makeover to make them safer into the future. 
  • Staff is renovating and repairing the picnic shelter at Shaw County Park.
  • Staff on Shaw are updating campsites and kiosks at Shaw County Park. 

The department is working on strategic planning for the future of its parks. The department will be reviewing previous plans and encouraging feedback from the community.    

8. Shaw Island Tour

County staff ended the meeting with a tour of Shaw Island parks, Public Works project sites, and other areas of interest.  



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