hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Taken Out of Context, . . .

Quoting a granddaughter: 'taken out of context, I must seem so strange.'  That's how I feel about Point Roberts, taken out of context, it is so strange, and its context is fairly inexplicable except to those who actually inhabit it and even to them the context is not the same.  For example, a weekender with a real house and job in Vancouver points out to me that he doesn't really have any interest in the community, as such, and acknowledges that that must be something of an irritant to those of us who live her full-time.  Well, yeah, sort of, but not all that much I'd think.  They pay taxes (2/3 of the property here is owned by Canadians and soon, it would appear, by Chinese investors who currently own a large housing development in process and now the marina) but they can't vote on what the rest of us want to use those taxes for.  And the weekenders do care about what happens here, even if it's outside their yard.  I got a note from someone a couple of weeks ago inquiring about some public property adjacent to the marina, in fact, and that said property used to be posted as public, but no longer is.  He was concerned about whether the new owners would be planning to reinvest it to the public, or just let it continue to slip into "apparently" private ownership.  Don't know the answer to that question.

Taken out of context, the idea that new investors (with the implication of deep pockets for improvements) would want to own a marina and make it into a spectacular localee doesn't seem that strange.  But in context, given that sailing up to the marina isn't all that much an improvement from driving up to the border crossing, it's a little hard to imagine what they have in mind.  According to the newspaper, the seller of the marina thinks this is what the new owners have in mind: a vision” to develop the marina and its properties into “the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.”

Imagine Pt. Roberts becoming the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.  You sail your giant yacht up and there's scarce room to park it.  You decide you'll live here on your giant yacht, but you'll have to walk anywhere on land that you want to go.  No buses, no taxis, no Uber here, and no reliable cellphone signal either.  So you'll have to travel with your automobile, making it a little less wonderful for traveling and living.  And, although there are a few perfectly okay restaurants here, it would be hard to imagine them as the finest on the West Coast.  So maybe these boat travelers will be cooking in their galleys, but of course they'll have to shop locally which, for the most part is okay, but it's not even Whole 
Foods, let alone the finest food on the West Coast.

Local entertainment?  We have our amusements but once again, "the finest"?

So what is this vision that would make Point Roberts so wondrous?  Well, there are its trees and its beaches but also its gone-awol dock and its collapsing boardwalk at Lighthouse Park and its missing public parking at Maple Beach, and its problematic long-term water supply, and the putative radio towers.  And a few other things, as well as the lack of a few other things.  Outside the context, it must seem like a lot of money (resources) could just turn us into Dubai.  Inside the context, not so much.

3 comments:

judson meraw said...

I am disturbed at the lack of pro action by our culture to design what we need to survive and prosper. It looks like we are open for others to get what they want while we sit on our hands, complaining about what we are about to miss out on.

We need to nurture and protect what we need and enjoy. Apparently that wasn't taught in our education system, We leave culture design up to the elites that have other plans.

Best wishes.
Judson Meraw

Jeff Butts said...

Good points Judy, you pretty much covered the main issues and deep seated problems that nobody has been able to overcome. If you look up the definition of urban sprawl, Point Roberts fits it to a t. Yet Whatcom County really isn't interested in doing anything about it. Judson comments on what we're about to miss out on, I would say that nobody is doing anything about what we've already lost. I've been coming to the Point for 60 years, and their used to be fish to catch, oysters and clams you could eat, and crab seasons that lasted longer then a week.
The boat industry pretty much died back in 06 when the price of gas put boat ownership out of most people's reach. It's rare to even see a boat leave the marina, except for the dedicated regatta sailors who go out on Tuesdays. For those who can still afford $800 to fill up their tank, Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, etc offer much more then PR could ever provide.
My great grandfather used to run a store where the breakers now sits dormant. HIs brother used to pilot the mail boat that would come from Bellingham. The pier used to be an actual pier, that my dad and I fished off of. Yes fish, salmon, Tyee the name of the main street into Point Roberts, which is named after a fish that has been extinct for over half a century.
Salmon was the currency that drove Point Roberts. Alaska Packers is somehow looked upon with some sort of "historical view" without ever getting to the reality that the fish traps wiped out the greatest salmon runs on the west coast.
No salmon , no money, and the pier decayed, and the salmon industry left town never to return. I grew up in South Beach (60's) and each day most everyone was going out in every type of boat to fish, and each night bar b q's were cooking up the days catch. My Uncle who built the Reef, would have a community salmon feed each year, where long bar b q pits would be made with chicken wire and 2 by fours, and they were 50 feet long, and there were 3 of them, and everyone in the Point would come down for the feast.
We'd hike up to Lily Point anytime we wanted clams and would come home with all the steamers, and chowder clams we could eat. Not anymore... they're permanently uneatable, except for tiny little windows of "its ok now"
There were no eagles around until the late 70's, but we'd see Orca's fairly regularly. We would go through the customs at PR by simply waving at the Agent who sat at his desk inside the window with his feet up on the desk. Once in a while a new agent might ask you a question, but it was rare for more then a few cars to be going through the crossing at once. There was even a second crossing at Maple beach. Maple beach had a store, a campground, and was somewhere to go.
So many of social and community aspects of Point Roberts have pretty much disappeared. The friendly innocence of crossing the border into Point Roberts has been replaced with TSA type dehumanization, and makes crossing the border a big deal, instead of the little formality it used to be.
The Counties big plan of selling the land to the Canadians seemed a good idea at the time, but has pretty much gutted the possibility of building back up a local community.
How can you build a business when 70% of the population is only there in the summer. Whatever energy the community has, it gets swallowed up by ill conceived developments, cell towers, radio towers, etc that the County zoning allows.
Until we change the zoning of Point Roberts, don't expect anything to change. Until the County invests in the community instead of new tax payers, don't expect change. There are many wonderful people here with lots of good idea's, but all are pretty much ignored. We all ask, how do we change it? How do we stop the deforestation, how do we stop the gentrification?? Without a local government, making decisions for locals, I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

Darwin Evolved said...

I have been researching Point Roberts as a place to buy land to build a retirement home on- I am in my early 50's currently- having visited long ago. The more I look the more I am concerned about what is going on up at the Point and wondering if it will succumb to the chase for the almighty Dollar- Canadian or US.