A Message from Commissioner Bacon

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Island County

District 1 News - July 21, 2023

  • Regular Session.  The agenda and recording for the July 18th regular session can be found here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/b67cddda-1151-4939-9af2-c887f20a2291.
    • The Board of Island County Commissioners take public comments during our Tuesday meetings. This week the public had comments on County union contract negotiations, animal welfare, LIHI, a Clinton hoarder house, an application for the Board of Equalization, and the transient encampment on Hoffman Road. Public comment begins at mark 00:01:34 in the recording.
    • The Board held public hearings before approving two resolutions:  (1) Resolution No. C-35-23: Adopting of Island County’s Six-year Transportation Improvement Program for the Years 2024-2029; and (2) Resolution No. C-36-23: Adopting of Island County’s Six-year Capital Improvement Program for the Years 2024-2029
    • The meeting started late because my commute to Coupeville was held up by 20 minutes of WSDOT paint striping at 10 miles per hour along 525. I apologize to any of you who had to wait for the meeting to start. I also wanted to let the rest of you who were held up by the highway paint striping this week know that I intend to speak with WSDOT at our IRTPO meeting next week about why there were no messages sent to Island County to let us know this would be occurring so that we could pass that information on to our citizens.
    • The agenda for the July 25th regular session is here: https://media.avcaptureall.cloud/meeting/2c000ce0-932a-485e-afe6-bc4dbe1c311d.
  • The Board of Health met this week. Agenda available here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07182023-588. The recording is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3936/07182023-BOH-MP3.
    • Public Health gave the County’s COVID After Action Review presentation. The presentation can be seen beginning on page 34; the discussion begins at mark 0:03:54 in the recording.
    • Tabitha Sierra, Behavioral Health Program Manager for WhidbeyHealth, gave an update on the WhidbeyHealth Behavioral Health program. Presentation begins at page 53 of the agenda; the discussion can be watched beginning at mark 0:42:27 in the recording.
    • Shawn gave us an update on wildfire smoke prevention measures, beginning at mark 1:18:07 in the recording.
  • Work Session. The agenda for the Wednesday, July 19th work session can be found here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07192023-586; the audio is here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3942/07192023-WS-Audio. If you want to fast forward to the conversations I note below you will need to download the audio instead of just streaming it, which you can do by clicking on the three dots at the right end of the streaming dashboard and clicking “download”. Depending on your internet access, this download may take a while.
    • The first item on the agenda was a terrific refresher for the Board on the Clean Water Utility (CWU), presented by Connie Bowers. The presentation begins on page 7 of the agenda. Most of the projects that are paid for from CWU fund are outfalls, drainage, and fish passage projects. There has been some confusion from some diking district members about how they benefit from the Clean Water Utility. Connie discusses the relationship between active diking districts and the CWU beginning at mark 0:03:42. The Clean Water Utility tax most residents pay is for both ensuring clean water through testing for health quality, and for capital projects to manage stormwater and drainage facilities to reduce or control dangers to health, life, and property due to erosion, flooding, or pollution in the County right-of-way. But for residents of diking districts and the Marshall Drainage District, CWU funds are only collected for the portion of the CWU that goes toward ensuring clean water, and they do not pay the portion that covers surface water and drainage activities because they are already being taxed for that exclusive purpose by their diking or drainage district.             
    • The County entered into a contract with Coastal Geologic Services to study our boat ramps to see where we should make improvements. Their findings were presented on Wednesday. The presentation can be found in the agenda beginning on page 31; the audio begins at mark 0:48:35. As you’ll hear if you listen to the recording, I am pushing for building an elevated boat ramp at Robinson’s Beach (the study indicated that mitigation for the littoral drift at the Maxwelton boat launch was not really suitable—but we could do an elevated ramp at Robinson’s, for about $3.5M; on page 37 of the agenda you can see a picture of the type of ramp we’re considering). We are reaching out to the Port of South Whidbey to see if they would partner with us on this, and we are also investigating grant opportunities. I feel strongly that a dependable boat ramp on the southwest side of Whidbey Island is imperative for safety and emergency egress as well as for recreational and fishing activities. We also expect to take the mitigation steps recommended by the contractor for the Utsalady Boat Ramp on Camano Island, which will cost around $220,000.
    • The Board talked about funding options for the Marshall Drainage District. The documents associated with this conversation begin on page 41 of the agenda; the discussion begins at mark 1:04:04. We will schedule a community meeting and a public hearing on this matter.
    • We reviewed the expectations we have of our contract with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) to provide permanent supportive housing at the former Harbor Inn in Freeland, and received updates from Public Health, Planning, and Human Services on how that project is going. Much dissatisfaction was expressed. The documents associated with this conversation begin on page 125 of the agenda; the discussion can be heard beginning at mark 2:30:05 in the recording.
    • There will be no work session next week. The next work session will be held at 9 am on Wednesday, August 2. The agenda for that work session will be made available by Friday, July 28.
  • The Council of Governments (COG) and the Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization (IRTPO) will meet next Wednesday. The agendas for those meetings are posted here: https://www.islandcountywa.gov/AgendaCenter.
  • There was a bad fire on Wednesday afternoon in Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, and a multipurpose building used as an office, small workshop and equipment storage shop was destroyed (this building was built in 1989, so was not one of the “historic” buildings of the reserve—but it was the operational hub of a working farm). One person suffered a minor injury. In an extraordinary display of interjurisdictional partnership, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, South Whidbey Fire/EMS, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, Oak Harbor Fire Department, Island County Sheriff's Office, Coupeville Marshall, Island County Public Works, and fire crew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island all responded to the blaze and kept it from spreading. Four partners operate Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve: Island County, the Town of Coupeville, Washington State Parks, and the National Parks Service. I represent the County on Ebey’s, and speaking as one of the four partners I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who worked so quickly, diligently, and cooperatively to control that fire. Things could have gone much worse—THANK YOU that it didn’t.
  • This year’s Whidbey Island Fair starts next week, from Thursday July 27 through Sunday July 30: https://www.whidbeyislandfair.com/. Hope to see you there.
  • My office is having a heck of a time scheduling meetings for the Commissioners now, because our calendars are filled with 2024 Budget discussions. They’re now having to push meetings out to October. So please be patient if you want to speak to one of us but can’t get anything set up. Probably the best time to reach me for the next couple of months is just before or after one of my Monday Teas.
  • Monday Tea with Melanie returns on Monday, July 24 at 3:00 pm at the WiFire Community Space, 1651 E. Main Street, Freeland. This is your opportunity to catch me out in the wild, so to speak—at these meetings I listen and respond to citizen concerns and questions, and several times issues that were initially raised at these meetings have ultimately resulted in action by the Board of County Commissioners.
  • On Monday July 31 at 5 pm I will also be available for citizen conversation at the Clinton Community Center, just before the Clinton Community Council monthly meeting. 


“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?”      ~Steven Wright