Years of work to add another layer of protection to the Greenbank Farm came to fruition this week.
The Board of Island County Commissioners approved a $335,000 conservation easement for the agriculture, recreational and environmentally sensitive land located at the publicly owned farm. The easement is funded by a Conservation Futures Fund award the commissioners signed off on in 2011.
Pat Powell, executive director for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, said the Greenbank Farm is an important part of Whidbey heritage and the easement still provides enough flexibility to keep the farm economically viable.
“The farm will always be kept intact and still have a pastoral landscape,” Powell said.
Approval on Monday came as a surprise to Port of Coupeville leaders, who expected deliberations would continue almost to the end of the year. The port owns the Greenbank Farm.
County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said staff was prepared for the documents and there wasn’t any controversy in approving the most recent easement. The county commissioners unanimously approved the easement.
The Port of Coupeville also agreed to surrender the development rights to seven acres of commercial land located on either side of Wonn Road. While preventing commercial development on those two rectangular strips of property, an option was written into the easement that allows construction of a park and ride lot.
The Conservation Easement will be a boon to the Port of Coupeville, which has deferred maintenance on projects at the farm and the Coupeville Wharf because of revenue shortfalls.
Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, said easement dollars will be discussed during the commissioners Dec. 12 meeting. He has a list of a dozen potential maintenance items that include replacing the fuel floats and installing an additional restroom at the Coupeville Wharf.
One certainty is that the port won’t be able to pay off its debt on the Greenbank Farm. Patton said the port is obligated to continue paying more than $100,000 a year, which is about a third of its levy income, through 2017.
The commissioners meeting takes place Wednesday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. in the Coupeville Public Library.