Neighbours demand changes to toll booth

Petition seeks better design, height changes to planned new building

Sidney will be talking further about plans to replace the toll booth as the Anacortes Ferry terminal.

In August, a proposal went before town council for the construction of a new facility that would offer additional customer service windows and more office space for the operators, Washington State Ferries. The project to replace the toll booth is estimated to cost $126,560 out of the Town’s ferry terminal reserve fund.

Consultation with the neighbours of the facility was first on the to-do list for the Town after they voted in favour of the plan on Aug. 12.

That communication with people started in a different way, as neighbours on Ocean Avenue opposed to the design of the building presented a 17-name petition to council on Sept. 23.

The petition expresses residents’ displeasure at the planned appearance of the structure, a two-story building clad mainly in metal.

“It looks like a mine shaft/grain elevator,” the petitioners stated about the proposed design.

They are not only asking that it be changed to fit in with the neighbourhood, but also be limited to a single level.

Architectural plans created by Finlayson Bonet Architecture, show a two-storey toll booth, clad mostly in metal to withstand the elements and to reduce maintenance costs. The new building will have three ticket windows available — including one for walk-on customers, another beneath a 12-foot canopy and a third on the north side that would be open to allow service to oversize vehicles.

Terminal manager Chris Olson says the new structure will provide optimal space for the facility and its staff, after years of working out of what is essentially a trailer.

Mayor Larry Cross says council has handed the plans over to its advisory committee for review as a result of the petition.

Cross excused himself from the discussion about the building, as he lives right across the street from it and doesn’t want there to be any hint of a conflict of interest perception. He did say after council voted to give the plans another look, that Washington State Ferries (WSF) would be included in further discussions to address the issues raised in the petition.

Sidney is paying for the new building due to its long-term lease with WSF which operates the Anacortes Ferry between the Town and the United States. Under the lease, signed on Jan.1, 2012, the Town collects rent from WSF and places the money into a capital upgrades reserve fund. In the agreement, the Town is responsible for upgrading or replacing terminal structures and as they are replaced, they become property of the Town.

The plan for the toll booth replacement is to do the construction during the ferry’s downtime between January and March, 2014.