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Waterline work draws praise, concerns in Langley

Planters like these on First Street, along with other vegetation, are a concern for Langley business owners. They want to keep the city’s parks green and presentable for tourists, and lobbied Langley City Council for a water right at the Boy and Dog Park.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Planters like these on First Street, along with other vegetation, are a concern for Langley business owners. They want to keep the city’s parks green and presentable for tourists, and lobbied Langley City Council for a water right at the Boy and Dog Park.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Some business leaders in Langley were thankful for early notice of work on First Street.

Challis Stringer, Langley’s public works director, sent out staff to inform businesses on First Street of the coming waterline work. Water will be unavailable during “a short time period” while the service is transferred from the old line to the new line.

Construction work, reduced street lanes and isolated sidewalk closures were other issues that Public Works addressed in its communication with businesses.

The door-to-door notices caught the attention of Bob Thurmond, a business owner in Langley.

“It’s spectacular that someone from the city would come do that at least one day ahead of time,” he told the council during its meeting Jan. 22.

Even so, city council members were still uncertain how they would water the city’s downtown parks, like Boy and Dog Park. The issue was raised at its Jan. 7 meeting, in which adding a water right to the park for a hose bib was proposed. Watering the planters and other vegetation would be easier if a hose could be added to the park.

“I think it’s just really important to think of our future and our future needs,” said Councilwoman Rene Neff.

The cost would be a $10,000 transfer from the city’s general fund to its water fund, plus utilities costs.

“What we wound up with was the city paying $10,000 for a hose bib, which seemed excessive,” said Councilman Hal Seligson, the city’s mayor pro-tem in the absence of a mayor. Langley is searching for a mayor after Larry Kwarsick resigned following a plea agreement with Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks for falsifying a city document.

There were also concerns about finishing the project in time for Langley’s Mystery Weekend in late February. The murder-mystery is a large tourist draw, and this year’s “Gone With The Tide” mystery is scheduled for Feb. 23 and 24.

Waterline work is expected to last 40 working days. Delaying the project for the hose bib may further impact Mystery Weekend and other tourism draws in the coming months, which council members wanted to avoid.

Jeff Arango, Langley’s planning director, said he would assemble all of the information regarding the water rights, hose bib and waterline work for the city council to review by this week. He encouraged the council to allow the project to move ahead, which had the acting mayor’s support.

“I’d like to have the project completed on time,” Seligson said.

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