EDITORIAL | Benefits outweigh the bad of Glendale

Imagine if you lived a few blocks from the water, or maybe just across the street, but you had to get in your car and drive miles away just to legally stand on the beach and throw a few stones into the waves.

That’s the situation in some areas of Whidbey Island where the shoreline is tied up in private hands and public beach access is scarce.

Fortunately, Island County government has taken steps in recent years to help ensure that people can get to the water without leaving their neighborhoods.

The county, for example, is currently in the midst of litigation with a Greenbank resident over the ownership of a beach property. In a split decision last year, the county commissioners accepted a donation of 300 feet of Mutiny Bay.

These actions have been politically difficult and have encountered snags along the way, but will ultimately improve the quality of life for Whidbey residents.

Most recently, however, the county commissioners nearly passed up the chance to purchase a valuable beach property in the Glendale neighborhood of South Whidbey because of concerns that the county doesn’t have the funds to maintain it.

Proposed by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, the organization altered the terms of its original proposal — it agreed to manage the area preserved — and is partnering with the county on the project. Island County is applying for two state grants, totaling about $900,000; the Land Trust is using its own money and borrowing more to purchase the property upfront and will hopefully be reimbursed once the county receives the grant money.

Three separate waterfront properties will be preserved. One houses the old Glendale Hotel and the pier, another is an adjacent parcel with a house and boat launch, and a third is undeveloped property just south of that.

Unfortunately, the Land Trust may remove an existing concrete boat launch and an over-water pier at Glendale. With limits on funds, the group has little choice but to demolish the over-water structures, particularly the boat launch. The end result will be 420 feet of shoreline secured for public use, but property restricted to non-motorized use only.

The pier is old and constructed with creosote pilings. It’s currently closed, and renovation to make the structure safe would top $200,000. The Land Trust should make sure it explores every option before taking the step of removing either the boat launch or pier. With strict rules nowadays on the construction of shoreline structures, it’s likely that they will never be rebuilt once they are gone.

Perhaps the Land Trust could team up with Island Beach Access for a fundraising effort to preserve one or both of the structures.

But even if such efforts don’t work and the structures are removed, the decision to preserve a key piece of beach access for the Whidbey Island community was the right one. Once again, the Land Trust came to the rescue.


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