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Glendale an unlikely acquisition for parks

The boat ramp in Glendale is an appealing feature of the property up for sale and being pursued by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust and Island Beach Access. The latter sought support from the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District in its bid for grant funding.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
The boat ramp in Glendale is an appealing feature of the property up for sale and being pursued by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust and Island Beach Access. The latter sought support from the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District in its bid for grant funding.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The opportunity to help acquire public beach access in Glendale is before the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District.

Last month, the Island County commissioners backed away from $900,000 in grant funding to purchase beach access properties in the Glendale area of Clinton. On March 19, members of Island Beach Access and Whidbey Environmental Action Network, two separate private advocacy groups, informally asked the parks district for support.

“Let’s not let this one slide,” said Marianne Edain at the parks board meeting last month.

Though interested in working with the two groups and others, including the county and the Port of South Whidbey, to acquire the property for the public, parks district leaders said the focus should be on existing assets.

“We’ve got to take care of what we are currently stewards of first, then look at some of these other properties,” said Director Doug Coutts, who referenced the district’s upcoming 3-cent levy increase request as the top priority.

“Until we have our levy set, we’re not going to be purchasing any additional property,” he added.

Edain said she hopes the parks district will sign off on any grant funding requests Island Beach Access makes in the attempt to buy the two beachfront parcels.

“It carries more weight and is more likely to succeed if a body of government signs on, rather than just an NGO [non-governmental organization],” she said.

Two commissioners, however, said they will diligently look into the efficacy of adding the property to its list. The South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District manages more than 320 acres across six sites: Trustland Trails, Community Park, Sports Complex, Deer Lake, Lone Lake and Goss Lake. None of the properties include shoreline access, which is an item in the parks district’s comprehensive plan.

Several years ago the district conducted a survey of residents to identify their needs and desires. At the top of the list was a pool, which had a bond rejected by voters in 2008. One of the other priorities was shoreline areas and water access. But parks leaders see access to the shoreline as more of a port or county responsibility, and even included language to that effect in the comprehensive plan. From page 25 of the guiding document for the publicly-funded district: “Active participation by the district in this county-wide process has the greatest near-term potential to address this significant area of need.”

In the recent past, the South Whidbey Parks commissioners missed the opportunity to accept 300 feet of beach access on Mutiny Bay from Frank Robinson, and the property was eventually accepted by the Island County commissioners. Taking on another property, even one as enticing as beach access, remained a difficult proposition for the commissioners.

“There are lots of these things that come along,” said Commissioner Matt Simms. “In a world of unlimited budgets and unlimited resources, I’d love to have every one of them in our inventory.”

“Our response time is slow,” he added. “Unfortunately that does not coincide with the windows of availability for properties like these.”

Simms said the commissioners would likely review the property at their upcoming meeting Wednesday, April 16. Parks board president Don Wood, Simms and Coutts said taking on the additional maintenance costs of cleaning the property would have to be evaluated. But Edain said members of Island Beach Access were prepared to handle the regular cleanup at the site and would need help with larger projects like landshaping or possible clearing of sand from a boat ramp.

“IBA is ready to tackle the day-to-day everyday maintenance of the property,” she said. “We don’t own tractors or bulldozers.”

“There are Island Beach Access members down there on a daily basis already,” she added.

 

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