Consider safety of Point Edwards residents | Guest View

By Barry Solem | Jun 16, 2017

I read the recent Beacon article (“Working to preserve the Demo Garden,” June 8) with special interest, and later looked at the minutes from the May 23 council meeting.

Since the conversation in both was shaped by a person who lives a considerable distance from that location, I would like to balance her concerns with input from a Point Edwards resident.

First, I want to thank the Edmonds City Council for agreeing many months ago to fund this lighting project. The $20,000 investment is a small price to pay for the safety of 400-plus Point Edward residents and others who walk through that area often.

I understand that Susie Schaefer and other volunteers are very committed to the idea of a Demo Garden in Edmonds, and occasionally we see the cars of a few volunteer workers parked at the entrance.

In reading Schaefer’s comments, however, the idea of a neighborhood was missing.

This is, after all, a public space owned in common by local taxpayers. In retrospect, when the Demo Garden volunteers were granted access or custodianship (not ownership) of this space in 2010, it might have been useful to clarify guidelines that work for a wider public.

One of those could have been a small buffer from the Pine Street roadway that is an attractive transition between the residential and wilderness spaces.

A few feet of ferns or other traditional landscape would not detract at all from the flexibility to create a wilderness within the Demo Garden.

My view is that the limited trimming that the Edmonds staff provided is a good first step in becoming good neighbors. It looks so much better now after being trimmed.

The discussion of lights in the newspaper and at council sessions is especially disappointing. The whole focus was on creatures and animals who apparently have adapted to the noise of traffic on State Route 104, the sound of train horns day and night, headlights of hundreds of cars turning onto Pine Street, and light from the neighboring fisheries.

To think critters and animals can function with the disruptive intrusions of light and noise and not adapt to the steady illumination of streetlights is more than amazing. The deer and other animals that wonder the grounds of Point Edwards have adapted.

Sadly, what is missing from the discussion is concern for the safety of residents who are at risk of falling, or worse, on those dark streets.

Finally, Schaefer and others make the point that volunteers have invested time creating and caring for that space. When they are done, they drive to their homes miles away.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents on Pine Street walk and drive through that dark area every day.

The campaign of a few seems to have created confusion that is too common and almost embarrassing.

We appreciate that a few volunteers contribute hundreds of hours a year trying to create a wildlife habitat and native plant exhibit in an urban setting. I respect that. I hope the Edmonds City Council and volunteers can appreciate that the Point Edwards residents also make a significant contribution, with taxes of about $2 million per year.

Like the volunteers, Point Edwards residents also have concerns. Safety. It’s not apparent in the Beacon article or council minutes that advocates acknowledge the limitations of what can be done in a shared urban neighborhood.

The space is not privately owned land; it is not a mission to save a near-extinct species, and this is not remote Snohomish County.

This is a meaningful outlet for a few volunteers and an approximation of a one-acre wildlife habitat and native plant experience for a few hundred visitors each year.

So, my hope is the Council will proceed with the lighting as planned, clarify good-neighbor guidelines with the Demo Garden group and recognize the safety concerns of your Point Edwards neighbors.

Barry Solem lives at Point Edwards.

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