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Summary of Port of Friday Harbor's March 22 meeting: Hangar lease renewal, aquarium, vessel's moorage status after sale, solar panels - Declaration added

LWVSJ Observer Corps* Notes Friday Harbor Port Commission, March 22, 2023: Members of the public commented on the proposed totem for the deck at the Spring Street Landing, reading a declaration asking for dignity for the tribes and giving voice to one of the local bands.

Spring Street Landing deck. View from the ferry. Sharon Kivisto photo

Declaration of Presence read to Port Commission

In Native cultures it was once common to send witnesses to important events where proclamations or decisions are made. Witnesses would then listen in silence, before going home to share what they have learned with other tribal members. Justin Youso is a local descendant of the Lummi people. Justin does not speak for the rest of the group. Lisa Nash Lawrence is the matriarch of the Mitchell Bay Band who have called San Juan Island home for generations.  She does speak for the people that live here! Neither one of them has a say right now. They are not given presence by the Port of Friday Harbor. I humbly ask that you show them some dignity and respect by giving voice to Lisa and Justin as well as the rest of the indigenous citizens who live here on the Island.

Members of the Friday Harbor Arts Commission have received written permission from the Port to place a Welcome Figure on Port property and have conveyed their preference for placing it on the deck at Spring Street Landing. They are waiting for a feasibility report on the engineering for the project.  Referrals will then be sent to seven indigenous groups that were here before us. Both figures will not fit on a 20ft x 35ft space on the deck above the water.  The people who live here have a right to choose which face they want to put forward.

Your offer to place a massive whale sculpture on the deck was not in their name! It was not in my name! That voice belongs to the citizens of San Juan Island who own the Port of Friday Harbor. Let them make the choice!

San Juan County Marine Project Manager confirmed that the county communicates with all the federally recognized tribes and carefully consider all differences in working towards building solid long-term relationships. The Port and County have the responsibility to work together to ensure all approaches are aligned.

The commissioners agreed that bringing people to the area to create an interactive experience would be a good outcome. The Port will put a more rigorous process for accepting artworks on a future agenda.

The Commission needs to decide what level of solar panels will be required for lease renewals. The current proposal is for 30% of panels on the best sun facing slope. The Executive Director is working with Opalco on next steps as plans going forward will require infrastructure upgrades. For the Port to qualify for the energy improvement funding needed, an energy study needs to be undertaken.

The commission is considering renewing the Sky Trails Hangar lease for another 10 year term with upgrades to the roof and siding being a priority. The viability of the roof to support proposed solar panels and upgraded infrastructure need to be planned.

The questions around the transfer of moorage with vessel sales was presented to the commission with public comment about the fairness of the waiting list policy that is currently in place. The Jensen’s covered moorage differs from other port properties and requires its own policies.

The commissioners ask that changes to the current policy be made in clear language and added as an action item for the next meeting.

The decisions on the future of the aquarium at the Spring Street Landing will take into consideration the expense of refurbishing the existing structure and the possible future inclusion of an interpretive center at that location.

The response to the Citizens Advisory Committee has been very positive and there have been 17 responses to date with 8 people on the original committee willing to serve again. The Executive Director will review all applications and letters of interest and will present the final applicants to the commissioners. The committee’s first task will be to provide analysis and recommendations on the master plan for Jensen’s, Shipyard Cove and land use.

*The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

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