As the sun set on a sunny September Thursday, about 70 Clinton residents and business owners gathered at the Clinton Community Hall for a potluck dinner and a healthy serving of optimism about the future of their “town.”
The Sept. 27 meeting channeled energy from a group of Clintonites who mobilized at a Future Search conference last January and are currently working cooperatively to boost and beautify Clinton.
Eight action committees were formed at the conference, including beautification, trails and paths, economic development, transportation, community center and infrastructure, utilities and a steering committee.
The economic development committee’s report was given by Carol Flax, manager of the Clinton Thursday Market, which in its first season attracted about 2,200 people in July and August to the donated green behind the Dairy Queen.
“We just jumped in and did it,” said Flax. “Vendors were generally really happy with the upbeat energy of the markets, and we hope next year’s markets will attract even more local people as the word gets out.”
“Our big plan for next year is to include a beer garden,” said Flax, a notion that was met with general approval from the audience.
Next to speak was Maury Hood, from the paths and trails committee, whose big news was that the committee had succeeded in identifying with the county the trail they most want to improve — the path between the ferry dock and Ken’s Korner. The trails and paths committee seeks additional input from bike riders and hikers to identify other Clinton-area trails they want improved.
Sine Hough, of the beautification committee, started her report by saying, “I want to make a difference!” Her committee is looking for volunteers to help plant hundreds of spring bulbs in Clinton on Oct. 27, national “Make a Difference Day.”
“Show up between 9 a.m. and noon that day and help us plant a swath of gold leading into Clinton,” said Hough. “We have lots of ideas and a huge amount of desire, but we need more ‘Beautification Buddies’ to help us.”
In addition to the committee reports, a proposal for creating a Clinton Community Council was discussed. The proposed council would be a non-elected body of concerned citizens who want to have a say about county and state issues that affect the quality of life in Clinton.
“At first, when we discussed the idea of a community council, we called it the ‘one voice’ committee,” said Jack Lynch, who serves as the group’s chairman. “But now we understand that it shouldn’t be limited to just one voice, but should include many points of view from those who share common concerns about our community.”
Lynch suggested viewpoints that could be represented on the Community Council, including interest groups such as the Friends of the Clinton Library and Whidbey Watershed Stewards, business representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, high school students, and the Clinton Progressive Association. Suggestions from the audience included St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, South Whidbey Parks & Recreation, the Maxwelton Community Club and political parties.
Steering committee members did a lot of research in other counties that have unincorporated “towns” with area councils. Many of these groups in San Juan, Kitsap and King counties focus their efforts on representing their area’s concerns with land-use planning and review, public safety and public facility siting.
“The feedback we got from our research is that communities and government organizations feel these councils serve a very useful purpose,” said Lynch.
Attorney Doug Kelly, a 30-year resident of Clinton, said, “Change is inevitable, but if we can get this community council up and running, we’ll have representation when the county comes in to make changes here.”
Those who want to be a voice on the Community Council should contact Jack Lynch at email@example.com or visit communityofclinton.org.
“We need a sense of place, and to know where Clinton begins and ends,” said Kelly. “Knowing where you are helps you know who you are.”