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Port of South Whidbey commissioners take heat on ‘Wanted’-style posters for cell-tower proposal

SCATCHET HEAD — Two port commissioners have become the target of an anonymous intimidation campaign.

During the past weekend, “Wanted”-style posters were spotted at several South End locations bearing the pictures of Port Commissioners Geoff Tapert and Chris Jerome. Port Commissioner Curt Gordon didn’t make the cut.

Under the word “REWARD!!!” is the question: “Find out what these two guys have to personally gain by destroying one of Whidbey Island’s nicest trails?”

Then, “Did you vote for me? LOL.”

The poster may be in response to the port’s current debate over whether to allow AT&T to build a cell tower on a hill above Possession Point Waterfront Park.

Some residents object to the tower because they believe that future recreational use of the park was guaranteed by the initial estate bequest of the land involved in 1985, and subsequent acquisition by the Port of South Whidbey.

Tapert was not amused by the poster.

“I believe this sort of tactic is completely ineffective,” he said. “It shows a serious lack of fortitude on the part of the author. I welcome a dialogue with whoever did this in an open public meeting or within the letters section of the Record.

“Anything short of that shows complete cowardice,” Tapert said.

For his part, Jerome feels that the poster isn’t particularly helpful in the ongoing discussion of the cell tower.

“In my view, there is a real public benefit to having a cell tower,” he said.

Tapert and Jerome have said they are aware that Fire District 3 officials have expressed support for a cell tower, stressing that it would improve communications.

Port manager Ed Field noted that the original intent of the port was to provide partial funding for the maintenance and funding of Possession Park.

“I’m not aware of any personal or private interest in the tower by any commissioners,” he said.

On May 11, commissioners agreed to a 90-day waiting period before moving ahead with project. The time would allow anyone interested to buy the 11 acres of land slated for the tower.

If approved by the port, the tower would be built about 35 feet from the Dorothy Cleveland Trail.

AT&T’s initial proposal is for a lease option to run for five years, with periodic renewal terms over the next 25 years.

However, the port has still not received an actual lease from AT&T that spells out any details.

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