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Langley dedicates renewed Second Street to city’s future

Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy snipped the scissors, signaling the official opening of the road between Anthes and Cascade avenues Wednesday afternoon.  - Ben Watanabe/ The Record
Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy snipped the scissors, signaling the official opening of the road between Anthes and Cascade avenues Wednesday afternoon.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe/ The Record

The sun shone brightly upon Second Street during its city dedication Wednesday afternoon, heralding the road’s major overhaul as complete.

Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy, with a snip of scissors, cut a ribbon signaling the official opening of the road between Anthes and Cascade avenues. Starting in January, the street was partially closed as crews tore out the old concrete, replaced some utilities underground, widened the sidewalks, and replaced the road.

“This is exactly what we had in mind,” said Langley City Councilman Bruce Allen.

In the middle of the street, between Callahan’s Firehouse and the South Whidbey Commons, dozens of people crowded the plaza. Instead of a lined crosswalk, one of the features was a raised center section with what looks like bricks laid out in a pattern. Hamburgers, hot dogs, snacks and ice cream were available for people to enjoy while taking in the city’s $2.7 million project. Langley leaders hope that it will help spark a revitalization in one of the city’s two important business areas, with the other being First Street.

Jeff Arango, Langley planning director, said having the road project finished and celebrated was a huge burden off his shoulders.

“To answer many of your questions, yes, I am relieved,” he said.

Arango also said that the point of redesigning Second Street to make it more pedestrian friendly was to build a tighter sense of community —people chatting over coffee on a bench, enjoying a stroll on the sidewalk.

“Judging by all of the people here today, it’s working,” he said.

City leaders thanked a long list of people involved in the project, including the companies that handled the work, design firm KPG, Inc. and SRV Construction. McCarthy thanked the Langley Main Street Association for working with the city on the landscaping and notifying businesses about work impacts like parking and utilities being temporarily shut off. A representative from KPG thanked Langley’s residents and business owners for their kindness, as did someone from Oak Harbor-based SRV Construction. He added that his crews were regularly treated to coffee and baked treats when they arrived in the morning.

“We’ve never had a project like this … We’re really proud of the work we did, and we hope you are too,” he said.

Local historian Bob Waterman reflected that it could represent a major shift in Second Street’s future. He said that when the city was first settled, the road did not go all the way through from Anthes to Cascade avenues. For much of the road’s history, little commerce happened, and for a time there was only the fire house and a jail, and “That was it.”

“There wasn’t much on this side,” Waterman said, motioning toward the south side of Second Street. “Not a whole lot of history on Second Street.”

Several businesses hope that the reopened and redesigned street, which opened in mid-June, will help them attract more customers or bring old customers back. The South Whidbey Commons struggled, as did several businesses, McCarthy said in a brief speech.

Despite months of dusty, torn up road and loss of downtown parking, city leaders maintained they felt strongly supported by business owners and residents.

“It’s probably the only project I’ve worked on where I got more compliments than complaints,” Arango said.

 

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