Ferries, health care meetings this week

Two meetings are happening this week regarding essential services to islanders: ferry service and health care.

At 7:30 this evening, Aug. 29, the Vashon Ferry Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting at the Vashon Library regarding potential changes to the ferry schedule. The changes, which Washington State Ferries presented via two options two weeks ago, could mean substantial changes for islanders. Those include morning sailings from Fauntleroy to Vashon that have a “layover” in Southworth and afternoon sailings between Vashon and Fauntleroy that also have a Southworth layover.

So far, that idea has gone over poorly with many islanders, including at the Chamber of Commerce, where Executive Director Jim Marsh said he believes that the some of the potential changes improve service to Southworth at islanders’ expense. He added that since Vashon is not growing, he believes WSF has focused improvements on Southworth, which is.

“We are left being part of a system that does not value the needs of our economy or residents,” he said.

At Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, Chief Charlie Krimmert noted his concerns about “layover” sailings.

“If it is indeed a longer trip because we have to go Southworth, that will have a direct negative impact on the fire protection of this island,” he said.

School district officials are also concerned.

“Option 2 is a disaster for commuter students and staff who live on the mainland. It could affect recruiting if it went into practice,” said Rheagan Sparks, board member.

In addition to the meeting tonight, longtime Vashon Ferry Advisory Committee head Greg Beardsley intends to be at the Vashon Library conference room Thursday night from 7 to 8:45 p.m., prepared to talk with anyone who would like to learn more about the possible schedule changes.

WSF officials have said they would like to receive feedback about the two options by the end of this month or as soon as possible through the Vashon Ferry Advisory Committee. Beardsley, however, who has asked that islanders’ comments go to WSF’s Hadley Rodero at roderoh@wsdot.wa.gov and that people copy him at gregsFAC@centurytel.net.

On Thursday night, the Vashon-Maury Health Collaborative will host Neighborcare Health officials to address challenges at the Sunrise Ridge clinic. Organizers hope the evening will provide an opportunity for islanders to hear from Neighborcare officials and for islanders to share some of their experiences and concerns.

The meeting, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Vashon Senior Center, will be the first in a series of three the collaborative intends to hold this month and next in an attempt to create sustainable health care on the island.

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