EDITORIAL | Schell has a good idea

Paul Schell came up with another one of his good ideas and it deserves a serious look by the Port of South Whidbey commissioners and city of Langley.

As reported in Saturday’s Record, Schell plans to expand his Boatyard Inn, creating more rental units near the marina, hopefully build a small restaurant to serve harbor users breakfast and lunch, and make the area accessible with an elevator from Cascade Avenue to the harbor. One can envision glass-enclosed tourists marveling at the sights as they make the descent and ascent. Drake’s Landing bed and breakfast would be “unbuilt,” back to the original salt box look before it was enlarged. Descendants of the original owner, Phil Simon, seem to like that idea.

Langley has a fancier mode of moving humans in mind, called a funicular, but Schell says an elevator would be less expensive. Since it’s a simpler solution it makes more sense, and the funicular isn’t so far along that it can’t be stopped in the planning process.

Coming from anyone else it may seem like pie-in-the-sky, but Paul Schell has to be taken seriously. He built the Inn at Langley, the Boatyard Inn (with a partner) and a couple of major commercial buildings on Second Street, which before then was little more than a cow pasture minus the cows.

Langley is celebrating its centennial this year. Volunteers have worked hard chronicling the period from its founding to the early ’70s, when an influx of outsiders with new ideas and some money started to reshape the tiny city into a tourist mecca.

Unfortunately for the historical timing, the Paul Schell era started in the ’80s. He’s done a lot for the town, ranking him with past luminaries from founder Jacob Anthes to ’30s entrepreneur Norman Clyde, among others. And he’s done it in his spare time, while serving as Port of Seattle commissioner, Seattle mayor and in various other distinguished positions.

Schell can be thin-skinned and testy, but by now he’s ingrained into Langley’s history. We should take advantage of what he has to offer while he’s still around and interested.


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