Opinion

Editorial

"South Whidbey made progress for future generations in 2000, and let's hope it can do the same in the bright new year of 2001.In this case, progress is defined as preserving public land for the future. In 2000, thanks to the voting public, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District acquired an additional 30 acres that will be turned into playfields, assuring future generations of young islanders room to romp.We're here for only a short time, so we have a responsibility to think of those who will come after us. Past generations gave us Dave Mackie Park, Phil Simon Park, Freeland Park, Dan Porter Park, accesses to the freshwater lakes, and a limited access to Puget Sound. This generation has added Possession Beach park, the Parks District lands, the Greenbank Farm, Bush Point, Double Bluff and now the additional Parks land.But more needs to be done. Our population is growing rapidly, but not like it will in the future. There is no less expensive time than now to acquire more land for public use. Zoning has its place in preserving the environment, but what is zoned can always be unzoned as population pressures increase. Only by purchasing land can open space, recreational areas and beach access be assured for all time.During 2001, the focus should be on the community of Clinton, our only town without public access to Puget Sound. This is indeed ironic as hundreds of thousands of people arrive in Clinton on the ferry each year, but there isn't a foot of land near the ferry dock they can legally stand on while waiting for the ferry. Nor is there anywhere for parents to take their kids, or for grandparents to walk on the beach. What little public beach access Clinton had was taken away by the ferry dock, so the state should have a role to play in helping restore that access.A petition drive is under way now to urge local authorities and the state to get involved in purchasing the property directly north of the ferry dock, known as the Kenmir property. It's for sale, it comes with a sandy beach, and the old Admiral's Mistress restaurant building could either be used to produce income or torn down for parking.The Kenmir property has been talked about for years. This year, 2001, is the time for our elected officials, particularly the Port of South Whidbey and Island County, to show real leadership in acquiring the property. The state has been reluctant to help acquire the Kenmir property in the past, but that could change. Of our three representatives in Olympia, one, Mary Margaret Haugen, chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and one, Barry Sehlin, co-chairs the House Appropriations Committee. This gives Kenmir property supporters two sympathetic and very powerful ears in Olympia.The time has never been better to give Clinton what it needs now, and to add to our inventory of public property that will be enjoyed by future generations. We have the leadership in place to acquire the Kenmir property in 2001 if only they make it their top priority. "

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