Steering committee evaluating various projects
The shoreline, a beach improvement district and a public restroom area with a parking lot made it to the top of the project list at last Saturday�s Birch Bay steering committee meeting.
�The purpose of the meeting was to prioritize projects within Birch Bay,� said Kathy Berg, the committee�s vice-chair. �To see where the committee should direct its efforts and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they appear.�
The most recent opportunity � and one which sparked the cause of last weekend�s meeting � was the recent $338,000 land donation made by Ken Hertz of Malibu Associates to Birch Bay. The land, located near Grandview Road, totals 45 acres and could potentially be the site of a project; or if left undeveloped, could be a source of $338,000 in cash.
�You�re essentially getting cash value when you do not develop the land,� Berg said, noting organizations such as the interagency office, a state group that invests public funds in projects such as parks, beaches and natural areas. �We want to get advice as to what projects are important in the community, and now they have to be further defined.�
Once the projects are discussed further, and outlined in more detail, the steering committee can begin to move forward on a project, depending on the opportunities available.
A total of 12 projects were discussed during Saturday�s meeting, and over 40 residents attended, ultimately voting to prioritize the project list. Although shoreline protection and improvement and a public restroom/parking area were at the top of the list, other projects cited were Bay Horizon park improvements, a boat launch at the state park, storm water management and the protection of Terrell spit. The formation of a Birch Bay beach improvement district, an idea of Alan Friedlob of Smart Growth Birch Bay, was second on the list. The district would be a funding mechanism created by county government to fund improvements in areas affecting Birch Bay�s public waterfront assets, he said.
There was some concern from residents about the voting procedures and the fact that some projects were ultimately connected, such as protecting Terrell spit and protecting the Birch Bay shoreline.
�I�m afraid we really split ourselves up on this. I think we�re spreading ourselves out too thin,� said committee representative and Birch Bay resident Doralee Booth.
Booth, and others, noted they were concerned the community would think the committee didn�t assess all discussed projects as important to the community.
�I just don�t want someone to say we don�t care about these projects,� resident Gerry Smith said, adding she wanted it to be clear that some projects at the bottom of the list would be included and mixed in with other projects.
�I think people know we want all these. The projects have to be further defined,� Berg said, noting although the projects aren�t grouped, they are connected.
The Birch Bay steering committee next meets on Wednesday, January 28 at 7 p.m. at the Birch Bay fire station on Birch Bay-Lynden Road, and discussion includes the project list.
�I was really pleased with the meeting. It wasn�t the best organized, but we all got to know each other better and we�re able to build community,� Berg said. �We are going to find opportunities and make things happen.�
Birch Bay project priority list
1. Shoreline protection & improvement/Berm project
2. Birch Bay Beach Improvement District (BBBID)
3. Restrooms/parking on east side of Birch Bay Drive
4. Match state grant for parks (requires updated County Park Plan)
5. Bay Horizon Park improvements
6. Protect Terrell spit
7. Boat launch at Birch Bay State Park
8. Stormwater management
9. Seagull Cove clean-up (drainage from BB Village)
10. Interpretive signs
11. Underground electric wires on Birch Bay Drive
12. School site (10 acres)�