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Langley park-and-ride project moves forward

The Langley City Council has OK’d an extension to an agreement that would continue work on the Langley Christian Missionary Alliance Church park-and-ride project.

The council unanimously approved a supplemental agreement for Cane Engineering to update and modify the stream buffer mitigation planting plan for the parking lot makeover, with the work expected to be finished by Sept. 30. The cost of the contract was also increased by $4,800 to a total of $72,764.

Familiar complaints dogged the parking plan, however, as neighbors and environmentalists continued to raise concerns over the removal of blackberry bushes and other stream-side issues.

Before the council vote, Marianne Edain of the Whidbey Environmental Action Network again found deficiencies with the city’s approach. The city needed to be methodical in its approach, from setting out what was to be done to getting the job complete, and Edain noted the project lacked a restoration plan.

“A restoration plan is a detailed plan of action for how we’re going to get from start to finish. In the line of restoration, you need that,” she said. “If you don’t have a map, it’s really hard to know where you’re going.”

Edain also said the revised planting plan included a lot of non-native plants.

“Plants, like people, live in communities,” she said. “Make sure you create a functional community so that it works together, instead of constantly fighting.”

She also said volunteers would need to be properly trained, and given a manual, “so they understand what the job is and how to do it.”

City staff countered the cart-before-the-horse question by noting the work was a necessary component of obtaining a critical areas permit needed for the parking lot makeover; modifications were also needed to the stream buffer enhancement plan because the city was responding to earlier concerns raised by the public.

The park-and-ride project has been controversial in recent months, with some saying the project is vital for providing overflow parking for downtown’s desperately-seeking-customers commercial core and marina, to others who have said it’s an Earth-unfriendly $480,000 boondoggle that will hurt Brookhaven Creek and inconvenience neighbors with bright lights and noise.

At the council’s last meeting, city officials defended a review process that has stretched since July 2004 over a project that only recently turned from a swan to an ugly duckling.

Mayor Paul Samuelson indicated the concerns raised were heartfelt.

“This community really does care,” said Mayor Paul Samuelson. “In fairness to this, this is about caring.”

With the retort from critics that the parking lot has endured more than “five years of caring,” Samuelson said: “My experience in government, tells me that that’s just part of the program,” he said.

Projects take time, he added, pointing to the work done on Anthes and Camano avenues.

Councilman Robert Gilman said that despite the pace of the project, the design has been improving.

“From my point of view, the process has been working,” Gilman said.

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