Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Quarterly Meeting 2009.04.05




April 5, 2009


65 persons were in attendance, including Guemes Island Ferry Committee (FC) members Glen Veal, Carl Cady, Terry Ebersole, Dyvon Havens, Steve Orsini.


Guests present:   Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen; Mary Brennan, Attorney at Law


Glen opened the meeting and welcomed everyone and guests. He thanked the Community Center Assn. and Ian Woofenden for use of the hall and and the Evening Star for special support. Glen then recused himself as Chair for the remainder of the meeting, and Steve Orsini was elected by the Committee to act as Chair for this meeting.



Anne Jackets reported on the results of the recent ferry committee member election.  The election was a tie, with 194 votes cast for each candidate, Glen Veal and Allen Bush.


Max Benjamin read and submitted a letter he wrote, outlining several complaints he has with the operation of the FC. He thinks the FC’s decision to seat both candidates is flawed. He moved for the rejection of the Ferry Committee proposal and selection of the fifth FC member by a coin toss.


There was much discussion of this issue, with Mary Brennan defending the Ferry Committee decision to seat both candidates. Dyvon Havens pointed out that County Auditor Jeanne Youngquist approved of the decision, as did two County Commissioners. Steve pointed out that, in the absence of language in the FC Charter addressing tie votes, the committee concluded the more inclusive course is to seat both candidates.


Steve Orsini informed Max that the Committee would not entertain his motion, because it is procedurally out of line. Steve explained that islanders will have the opportunity to give input on, and vote on, changes in the Charter at the annual meeting the first quarter of 2010.

Steve invited both Glen Veal and Allen Bush to come forward and be officially seated as Committee members. Both candidates came forward.


Treasurer’s Report

Dyvon thanked islanders for their contributions to the election fund, totaling $691, plus a check from the Community Center Assn for $200 that has been lost in the mail. The election cost $375.09. Checking account balance $343.01, not including the missing $200.


Ferry Haulout

The dates will be April 15-25. The Arrow launch service will provide passenger travel during that time. The FC asked Ron Panzero to request better protection for persons who are unable to go below and must remain on the deck during the transit process. A type of protective covering, either for the deck itself or for individuals, might be an option. Marilee Fosbre feels this solution is unacceptable and asked that the County contract with another company with a smaller boat to provide services to those who are physically unable to manage with the Arrow. It was also suggested that special accommodation be made part of the bidding process in the future.


SKAT services will be available free of charge on the Guemes side. There will be no garbage service, but the FC requested that Ron Panzero check with Waste Mgmt about providing service on Monday, April 27. The FC also asked for steeper angle parking striping on 6th St. to allow for more cars. Ron will check into the latter two items. 23-trip car and driver tickets will be extended to 10 days. Ron will ask City police chief for increased patrol. A sheriff’s car, a Puget Power truck, and a Verizon truck will be parked on the Guemes side for emergencies. Glen asked people to remove their long term parked vehicles from the parking lots in a timely fashion to allow room for parking during the haulout. Guemes Connects is sponsoring placement of a wheelchair on the Guemes side for those who need it.



Wiring for the security cameras is in. County will be buying the software as a package, because they have other sites also. Ron does not know the time frame for it being operational.


Three-person Crew

Ron Panzero says the system is working. There have been several complaints from islanders about seemingly unnecessary late departures. Members of the audience confirmed there are problems. Ron has delegated authority to the Captain of each shift to manage the situation. Complaints should go to the Captain. However, Dyvon pointed out that the County is saving a lot of money by going from four to three crew members, and islanders need to  exhibit tolerance when there are only 30 minutes between runs.


Ticket Sales

The County is working on developing a system of ticket sales by vending machines. Best-case-scenario for implementation would be late 2009.


Public Works Director

Dave Sheridan is interim PW Director. There are no solid plans at this time for hiring a permanent Director.


Terminal Building

The project is on hold for the moment. The County may get stimulus money for it, but if not, there are many repairs that will be needed.


Transfer Span

Replacements will be made in September, 2010. The project will be capital expenditures paid for through federal grants. The County has secured the funds for the Guemes side and is looking for funding  for the Anacortes side.


Road Widening Guemes

The County  hopes to finish all the graveling of the lane before the haulout. The widening will go up to the church. They will not be removing the pole by the church, but the others will be moved.


Summer/Winter Schedule

The FC will be discussing with the County the possibility of having different summer and winter schedules, within the current start-and-end time parameters. Carl pointed out that the months of June through August show a 20% increase in car traffic and a 50% increase in walk-on traffic. The Committee asked for input on the subject. Instituting 25-minute runs does not seem feasible with the three-person crew. Max suggested conducting a poll of riders on the subject.


Ferry Tax Rebate

There is an RCW allowing for tax rebate on anything that becomes a component of the ferry. The County will apply for a rebate, and they project a return of about $100,000 going back approximately 4 years.


Ridership Feedback

The FC asked for feedback on ferry issues.


Bob Anderson expressed concern about recent harassment of FC members by a couple of islanders, pointing out that the FC members are volunteers trying to do their best and that it will be difficult getting anyone to volunteer on the island if they are treated poorly. We need to be civil in expressing our concerns and treat each other with respect.


Chip Bogosian is concerned that Ron Panzero is planning to increase biodiesel to 20%. He feels it may jeopardize the longevity of the engines.


Jodi Meekins asked the FC to find out if the Kiwanis Park will be available overnight during the haulout. The FC will contact the City and put the answer on linetime.


Julie Pingree would like the ruts in the parking lot filled in. The FC will ask the County to do this. Max says Chris Seidel is the contact.


Glen Veal asked for islanders’ cooperation in parking in the designated spots, to the extent possible, during haulout, rather than in front of neighboring homes.


Carol Pellett asked that the FC consider changing the voting to property owners rather than registered voters. Steve read part of a letter by Don Munks expressing a preference for registered voters. Howard Pellett offered to provide his list of property owners and renters.


Reaching Out

Dyvon asked for suggestions on how the FC can widen their communications to reach those who are not now hearing about FC business and ways to ensure the FC is open to all voices. Following are suggestions made:


To save expense, surveys and other mailings can be placed in everyone’s mailbox. However, it was pointed out this is illegal.


A “Suggestions” drop box could be placed at a strategic location.


FC members could have office hours in the Ferry Terminal, say two hours a month.


A survey box could be placed in the ferry terminal.


Methods of getting more people on the FC email list: Posters could be placed around, with the question: “Would you like to receive Ferry Committee news? Here’s how to get it.” Use the Evening Star, snail mail.


Commissioner Ron Wesen’s Remarks

Commissioner Wesen encouraged islanders to get along with their neighbors. He mentioned the County may provide some funds to help with improving the 6th Street ferry lane situation. He asked that islanders not put extra pressure on the crew and the Captains. They are trying to operate in a safe and efficient manner. There will be a County budget meeting next week, and it looks like there will be about a $1.5 to $3 million shortfall in 2009.


The meeting was adjourned about 4:30 pm.


Editor’s Note:

Special thanks for Janice Veal, Susan Brendon, Ann Cady, and Anne Jackets for providing the cookies and coffee for our enjoyment!




d. havens

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