Liberty Road residents press council on Fishline

POULSBO — Residents of Liberty Road off Viking Avenue are showing no sign of halting their opposition to North Kitsap Fishline’s use of the road, and maintain that the added traffic will pose a safety hazard, among other complications.

“I think the city of Poulsbo is required to look out for the safety of the residents of Poulsbo,” said Tom Wenning at the City Council meeting Jan. 15.

“You cannot have 150 cars a day on Liberty Road and expect it to be just as safe as it is now,” he said.

North Kitsap Fishline, a non-profit food bank, is in the process of moving into a location at Viking Avenue and Liberty Road — a 1.7-acre site formerly home to Poulsbo RV.

To access Fishline, drivers would turn off of Viking Avenue onto Liberty Road, and then immediately into the food bank’s parking lot. There is access to the lot directly off of Viking Avenue, however, it has been blocked.

Wenning came to the City Council meeting, along with nine of his Liberty Road neighbors, to continue opposition to Fishline’s access to the road. Wenning initially sent a letter to the city on Dec. 4, complaining that the added traffic equals a safety risk and arguing that emergency service personnel will have difficulty accessing the neighborhood.

Responding to Wenning’s letter, the city engineering department launched an investigation into the matter and determined that no deficiencies would result from Fishline’s use of the road and that the roads are sufficient for emergency services to use.

The engineering department also noted that the city has no legal nexus to impose conditions on Fishline, meaning that the food bank’s access on Liberty Road is part of its property, and it therefore has a right to access the road.

But the findings did not deter residents.

Len Toyne read a statement from his neighbor who could not attend the meeting.

Toyne reported that Fishline’s use of Liberty Road will cause curiosity for visitors to see what else if up the road, and create more traffic in the neighborhood that has no outlet, while also creating delays for residents.

“We residents have already suffered from the tattoo parlor that the city of Poulsbo permitted to locate immediately below our homes,” Toyne read. “It is not clear why the owners have made a cult hero out of Charles Manson who is only remarkable as a fiend.”

Shannon Stephan noted that children are dropped off by school buses at the entrance to Liberty Road off Viking Avenue, and they to walk up to the neighborhood along the road. She expressed concern for traffic conflicting with children’s walking route.

Stephan also said people may become confused and assume that they can access other areas of west Poulsbo, when they cannot.

“My concern isn’t with Fishline itself. I don’t have a problem with it being there,” she said. “I do have a problem with access being on Liberty Road and I am concerned with people thinking that they can get through.”

Mayor Becky Erickson took a moment to respond to residents’ concerns, and asked for patience while the city looks into the issue.

“I would love to be able to find a way to make it easier to get in and out of Liberty Lane onto Viking Avenue,” Erickson said. “I don't know what that looks like and I have no guarantees of that. I will be real frank here.”

“It’s really easy for us to put up a couple of no outlet signs,” she said. “We are putting traffic counters up there so we can determine what the traffic flow that is up and down Liberty (Road). We don’t know what those traffic counts are now or when Fishline moves in.”

Erickson said that placing a stop light at the intersection is unlikely and expensive.

“We hear you and we are going to make sure we will do every thing with our legal authority to make sure that Fishline has its rights and you folks maintain your privacy and your safety. I believe there is a balancing act that we can do here. Please be patient with us.”


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