Zack Leck and Assistant smoothing out any rough spots on the new slide

The Playground on the Village Green is ALMOST open!  This week, the slide was put in place and they are just awaiting a final inspection from the County.  This project has been years in the making and has hadmany partners—the County, donors, builders, artists, and organizers.  Thank you to all.  I am looking forward to seeing it covered in kids!  The grand opening will happen in June and will be a great celebration.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the possible loss of a small affordable apartment building.  I am delighted to report that a community member stepped forward and helped facilitate the purchase for OPAL Community Land Trust.  That means those seven families will keep their homes.  In addition, the Athletic Director and family found a rental and have signed a lease—such good news! Sometimes things work out.

And sometimes it is hard.

Many of the childcare centers, preschools and the Funhouse are all looking for staff.  They are experiencing waitlists, as they cannot fully reopen without additional employees, creating a bottleneck for this economy, as parents can’t return to work if they can’t find childcare.  Add to that the fact that wages for childcare providers are so out of pace with local housing costs and we have ourselves a crisis. It has been brewing for a long time, but somehow, we reached a tipping point during Covid, and it is playing out in businesses and professions across the board.  Finding a solution is going to take creativity, determination, and time.

There are plenty of questions.  What wage is a living wage on Orcas?  How do you build affordable homes when the costs of land, lumber, and utility connections are  so high?  Is it time to rethink our codes to allow for higher density in an expanded area?  How do short-term vacation rentals and/or over-tourism concerns fit into this puzzle?  Do we have the political will to address and change the system as it is and develop an economy that works for our workers and working families?

I’d love to hear your ideas and your questions.  It is going to take us all to solve this.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!