Blaine neighborhood association working to improve Telescope Beach

Published on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

Read More News

A view of Telescope Beach after the cleanup work was finished. Photos by Janet Pickard.

With multiple flatbed trucks worth of blackberry bushes and other invasive plants removed, a stretch of beach in Marine Park in Blaine is now ripe for future improvements.

The Salishan Neighborhood Association spent four Saturdays over the course of the summer clearing weeds and bramble from Telescope Beach in an effort to make the area more accessible to the public, said Janet Picard, president of the association. The work is just the start of an effort Pickard and the neighborhood association hope will bring greater opportunities to recreate at the unique stretch of beach.

Pickard first became aware of the push to improve the beach through Richard Sturgill, a Salishan neighborhood resident and former member of the Blaine Parks and Cemetery Board. Sturgill said the board had been batting the idea around for at least the past 10 years but never got it started.

Pickard and the rest of the Salishan neighborhood, however, jumped on the chance to spruce up Telescope Beach.
“I fell in love with the idea, quite frankly,” Pickard said.

Pickard said she was excited about improving the beach because it is one of the few stretches on the north side of Drayton Harbor open to the public. With the east half of Marine Park dedicated to a bird sanctuary, she said Telescope Beach is really the only opportunity for Blaine residents to experience a public beach outside of Birch Bay.

The main problem at the beach was the blackberries, but the 15 or so volunteers also knocked down some taller weeds, Pickard said. The only thing they left was the native beach grass. Pickard said they did not find much garbage, though the area used to be a dump for the city of Blaine.

“We cleaned it up as much as we could,” Pickard said.

Now that the invasive species are cleared out and access to the water is a bit easier, Pickard and Sturgill said the Salishan Neighborhood Association wants to take it a step further. The association, through a nascent group called the Friends of Telescope Beach, presented a beach improvement plan to the Blaine Parks and Cemetery Board at the board’s meeting on Thursday, September 15. Sturgill said Friends of Telescope Beach will be formed so anyone living in the area, not just the Salishan neighborhood, will feel welcomed to join.

The beach improvement plan will include space for a fire ring near the water and a sand volleyball court, Pickard explained. If the Parks and Cemetery Board likes the idea, the plan will move on to the Blaine City Council for consideration.

Sturgill, who is also a commissioner for the Northwest Park and Recreation District 2, said this improvement plan is an example of something the parks district could help fund if its upcoming levy is approved in the November election. The parks and recreation district has worked with the city of Blaine on a number of projects, including the small shelters in Marine Park and the soon-to-be-finished trail along Peace Portal Drive from Cherry Street to Bayview Avenue.

The levy would raise $350,000 for the district over the next six years, and cost 10 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed valuation, or $20 annually on a $200,000 home. Approximately $375,000 from the previous levy, which expired two years ago, paid for renovations to the activity center at Bay Horizon Park, the construction of the playground at Bay Horizon and the addition of the kayak launch at Dakota Creek.

Top, right: Janet Pickard gestures toward the blackberry bushes that once overran Telescope Beach.