Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws speaks to a packed house at the April 17 Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce meeting at Dee's Country Diner in Birch Bay. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz.
Story update: Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce just gave some additional clarifying information. It's included below
The Birch Bay community will once again be equipped with portable restrooms for the summer thanks to Whatcom County executive Jack Louws.
Louws announced he has authorized his office to spend $2,000 on portable restrooms along Birch Bay Drive for the upcoming tourist season. Last year, then county executive Pete Kremen authorized an emergency expenditure of $4,000 to provide portable restrooms.
“I know it became an emergency last year, so I’m trying to head that emergency off this year,” Louws said at the April 17 Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce meeting.
In a later email conversation, Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce president John Gargett said Louws' office will provide the money directly to the chamber of commerce. Chamber volunteers will then seek out possible additional sources of funds for portable restrooms and order as many as available funds allow.
Alongside this announcement, Louws challenged the Birch Bay community to “take control of their own economic destiny” when it comes to permanent restrooms. He suggested Whatcom County could possibly find the money to build permanent bathrooms but most likely would not be able to put up the funds to maintain them.
“Our general fund is stretched, and it’s going to be stretched even more over the next three to five years,” Louws said. “Having parks department people come out to Birch Bay to clean restrooms will be difficult to do.”
In response to this, Gargett said the community is willing to take up Louws challenge. Gargett said the county as a whole benefits from the tourist dollars Birch Bay brings in during the spring and summer season.
“We will meet his challenge,” Gargett said. “Whatcom County is really blessed with Birch Bay, and Washington state is really blessed with Birch Bay.”