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Island County, South Whidbey parks opens talks over public land

Preliminary conversation about the Island County park properties on South Whidbey has begun with the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District.

Parks Director Doug Coutts reported to the parks commissioners that he met with a pair of South Whidbey elected officials about a handful of county properties. He said he spoke with Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Dennis Gregoire to begin looking at which properties the county may seek to vacate management and possibly ownership of in the coming years.

They asked a parks board member to join in the future discussions, and parks Commissioner Joel Gerlach volunteered to be the liaison.

Last year, Price Johnson spoke to the parks board about possibly taking over a few county-owned properties. The parks district countered with a long list of questions about Dan Porter, Dave Mackie and Freeland parks. Matt Simms, a parks commissioner, said they never heard back from the county.

“Someone is going to have to run something at some point to fund those properties,” Coutts said.

Parks leaders have said the increase would not be spent on new properties or new facilities.

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