Who should pay?

Squabbles about who pays what for routine channel dredging has some members of a Greenbank community feeling high and dry.

The money disagreement started after years of silt accumulating one of the boat waterways at Lagoon Point became a mud pile during zero tides. The pile makes it impossible for channel-side two lot owners to access Admiralty Inlet. In addition, the silt accumulation has made it impossible, at times, for homeowners along two private canals to traverse from one canal to the other, according to Lagoon Point resident Bert Pack, a member of the architecture committee attached to the Lagoon Point Board of Directors.

The waterway is supposed to be 20-feet deep. To bring it back to an appropriate depth for boats, members of the board of directors of the Lagoon Point Improvement Committee — which serves as the community’s governing body — put a resolution to fund dredging and cleanup work up for a community vote. The body also attempted bring the issue to a community vote that, if approved, would have had every Lagoon Point lot owner pay an assessment of $30 to pay for the work.

Both community ballot issues, attempted within the last several months, failed to pass.

Pack, who does live on a lot alongside one of the Lagoon Point waterways, said he saw the equal payment resolution as fair. But, he asserts, the language of the resolution and a letter telling lot owners not to approve the equal-payment proposal caused the vote to fail. The situation spurred Pack and his wife, Beverly, to write critical letter in opposition and circulate it to all Lagoon Point residents.

The work at issue in the waterways is expensive. The dredging process would include permitting, planning and bringing in pipe to suck out the accumulated silt and other materials and move it. The waterway was last dredged in 1995 at a cost of $37,000, but Pack said the dredging this time — based on a 2001 engineer’s survey — will cost approximately $185,000, because three times as much area needs to be dredged.

The community is divided into four divisions, with Division 1 and view tracts make up of about 350 homes on the bluff and on the north side of the community waterway. All of the 151 homes in Divisions 2, 3 and 4 sit on the south side of the waterway. Most of those homes sit along the waterways, with the another 22 homes located on the inlet rather than the canals.

The resolution, put to a vote in May, was needed to change Lagoon Point’s bylaws, which were drafted in 1950.

The resolution placed the majority of the financial burden for maintaining the waterways on members of the Lagoon Point community owning lots along waterways. Currently, most lot owners in the community pays $65 a year into a community maintenance fund, but those living along waterways pay $85. The resolution would have added $20 to that amount for most Lagoon Point residents. Waterway lot owners would have paid an additional $200.

But the resolution failed, with 28 percent voting yes, 42 percent voting “no” and 30 percent not voting.

After resolution’s failure, the board of directors proposed that all residents pay the same amount, $30. This proposal also failed.

Pack and his wife were upset about a letter sent by board members Linda Armstrong, Roy Blackwell, Paula Ratcliff, Bill Schmid, Stevens and Bob Vierra opposing the equal payment. In addition, Pack said several community members put signs on their yard, that stated “We pay and they play.”

Pack said he feels members of the board of directors have the right to vote against proposal, but can’t advocate for its defeat by a community vote.

“My biggest problem is the board of directors say they are trying to solve the problem and then lobby against it,” he said.

Lagoon Point board president Andrew Messer, is one of the people who supported the letter and signs.

“The board of directors conducts the business of the Lagoon Point community in accordance with the Lagoon Point Improvement Club by-laws,” he said. “which in this case required a statement for and a statement against the proposal.”

He declined to comment further about the resolution and said that other board member would be told to avoid making any statements to the media on the issue.

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