EDITORIAL | Port, city must work together

The relationship between the city of Langley and Port of South Whidbey is critical but on shaky ground with the absence of former Mayor Larry Kwarsick.

Kwarsick’s run-in with the law for changing a public document has left Langley without a leader until the mayoral vacancy can be filled. Mayor Pro-Tem Hal Seligson is doing all he can, but he can’t be on top of everything as the city’s temporary, part-time, stand-in mayor.

Port commissioners were greeted rather coolly last week when they went to the council to play a game of “let’s make a deal” in public. The port wants to install taller light poles during the upcoming enlargement of the Langley Marina. That would require a change in city code. In return, the port would help purchase the six-passenger electric golf cart the city wants to haul marina users up and down hilly Wharf Street.

The tit-for-tat deal was listened to with no enthusiasm. Jeff Arango, city planner, went so far as to say of the proposal, “That’s completely inappropriate, to be honest.”

That pretty much shot down all the good will Kwarsick had built up with the port over the last year. Kwarsick and the port commissioners were on the same track, focused on completing the long-delayed and stripped down marina project, and Kwarsick would have listened to the need for a few higher light poles. It makes some sense. Boaters would have a clearer view of Langley Marina as they pass by and perhaps decided to stop for a night in the marina and shop the next day in town. Marina users wouldn’t have to stumble around in poor lighting from the present Hobbit-sized poles only a few feet high.

Lighting is always a troublesome issue. Neighbors often don’t want light at night, while visitors, walkers, joggers and boaters want more light. But the variety of different directional lighting available today is endless and a solution could have been found to satisfy both the port and city residents.

All is not lost. The port still wants improved lighting and the city has a code amendment process in place to make it happen. All it needs is some strong leadership the port can trust and work with.

That should be one of the top criteria as the city council sets about to find a new mayor.

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