June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:42 PM
"Glendale residents and their environmentally-concerned supporters did a good job of making their case last week when the Island County Commissioners held a special meeting on South Whidbey to discuss the future of Glendale Road.The big flood of 1997 washed out Glendale Road, and ever since then residents of the tiny seaside community have been fighting plans to re-open the road as it was -- a two-way thoroughfare busier than it should be because of the number of drivers who used it as a shortcut to the ferry.The only other access to Glendale is provided by Humphrey Road, an unstable ribbon of asphalt perched precariously high on a slide-prone bluff. To guarantee future access to Glendale, something had to be done to re-open Glendale Road.The Island County Public Works Department came up with the two-lane plan. Building a stable road through the canyon would be expensive, but the federal government helped with some diaster money. Design precautions were taken to protect Glendale Creek's nascent salmon run, made possible by the 1997 washout of the lower culvert. But it was a big project and area residents still balked at the two-lane-road idea. Many wanted no road at all in the upper reaches of the canyon, but the community compromised on a one-lane proposal.With money in hand for the two-lane project, the commissioners have been reluctant to signal any support for a lesser effort. Mike Shelton, who represents South Whidbey, has stood in downtown Glendale and argued for a two-lane solution.In the ensuing months, however, Glendale residents have done an impressive job of selling their one-way solution. A single lane with a turnout or two, perhaps, would guaranteed future access to the community with not nearly so much construction damage to the canyon and creek. The creek could be made even more salmon-friendly.Environmental and outdoors groups signed on to the vision painted by Glendale residents: A bucolic, tree-lined lane above the babbling creek, with room enough for hikers and salmon-watchers to move aside for the occasional car. The South Whidbey public would have a new outdoor recreation area at no cost, other than giving up a two-lane road which nobody really needs to use. The single lane would provide future access in case of a Humphrey Road slide.The Glendale residents have the right idea. It's time to start going the extra mile to make the environment better, rather than simply trying not to make it worse. A one-lane Glendale Road would be better for fish, wildlife and the people of Glendale, without causing any undue hardship to others.The Island County Commissioners came to South Whidbey to hear the people. Now they should prove they listened by giving the people what they want. Even if it means building a lesser road and giving some money back to the federal government. "