Port of Coupeville seeks public input on comprehensive scheme

Ideas were abundant Tuesday from a small group of community members interested in shaping the future of the Port of Coupeville.

The port, which owns two historic properties on Central Whidbey — the Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm — held the first of two public meetings to garner public input for its Comprehensive Scheme and Strategic Plan.

Some ideas were reminiscent of early days at the farm suggesting the port focus on bringing back music, festivals and other events. Others ideas, while inventive, may be a bit far-reaching. One person suggested port leaders work on making the Navy’s Outlying Field multi-use so private planes can use it to bring more tourists to the island without further congesting the ferry system.

Others suggested creating camping and RV space at the farm or becoming a business incubator.

The port, with the help of consulting firm Community Attributes Inc., has been working on updating its plan since May. It created a Citizens Advisory Council with members representing different areas, or stakeholders of the community.

The port wants to be more than just managers of Greenbank Farm, said Mark Goodman, a project manager for Community Attributes. It wants a consensus vision for the port with input from stakeholders.

Input from the public meetings will be used to help develop a draft of the comprehensive scheme.

“The port worked hard to try and get a good representation of the community,” Goodman said.

The process is about halfway done and Goodman said he hopes to have a plan to present to port commissioners by September.

Comprehensive schemes are required by law, but not a strategic plan. The plan will help guide the port through the steps its needs to take to fulfill the scheme.

A current scheme was created in 2007 and updated in 2010. Since then the port has taken over management of the farm.

During the process, Goodman said they will be looking at other port models throughout the state. The basic function of a port is to support economic development. There is no set model on the type of facilities a port must manage. There are some ports that have land-locked property.

There’s diversity in the type of facilities ports manage, Goodman said. Ports are an important mechanism in a community because other government entities are limited on what they can do.

“Greenbank Farm is the trickiest of the (port’s) two properties because there’s a lot of ideas and opportunities for the farm,” Goodman said.

Within the plan, the port is working to identify ways to make the farm self sufficient as well as ways to drive more people to the farm and wharf.

Those who attended the meeting Tuesday were asked to choose four focus areas the port should prioritize. Among the most selected areas were addressing deferred maintenance at existing facilities, land conservation and preservation, recreational opportunities/facilities and supporting existing local industries.

Through the process, all input will be ranked and streamlined.

Comments can be submitted electronically on a webpage, www.portofcoupeville.cai-engage.com, created for the comprehensive scheme.

Another meeting is being planned, but a date has yet to be determined.

Community members were asked to write their ideas on projects, programs, etc. they feel the port should pursue. Ideas ranged from creating a camping area at Greenbank Farm to building up an agricultural program.

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