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SOUND OFF | Bluff stabilization is a Langley responsibility
By KATHLEEN WATERS
To the mayor, city council of Langley and the Port of South Whidbey Commissioners:
Please address a solution to the separate and serious landslides on Wharf Street in 2013. It is disturbing to know that the money that was originally allocated for the widening and consequent shoring up of the bluff toward Cascade Avenue by the Island County Council of Governments is not targeted for use to serve the wider Langley community.
The money that was originally requested from the council for work on Wharf Street, including its natural geography up the bluff toward Cascade Avenue, should be put to use to serve the wider Langley community, marina traffic, the residents of South Whidbey and in particular property owners whose livelihood and lives rely on the use of Wharf Street for regular and reliable transportation.
Again, I ask that all elected officials please give this continuing problem of potential slides on Wharf Street due deliberation in concert with open minds and adequate research and expert consultation. Casual conversations based on personal ideas, personal opinions, denial of facts about the Wharf Street and Cascade slides, including misinformation masquerading as fact, are not feasible in this case. Cascade Avenue remains in peril until Wharf Street is stabilized. As does, of course, Wharf Street and those who must use it to come and go from the beach and marina area.
If money beyond the grant funds from the council, in the amount of $500,000, is not adequate then a partnership with the Port of South Whidbey is the first agency that should be considered for a joint solution. Beyond that the city must find a solution through any means available to it. Not addressing this problem is not an option for those who need to use Wharf Street.
As a long-time property owner on Wharf Street who has experienced the various iterations of potential and actual waterfront development on private and public property, city- imposed zoning and land use changes and entrepreneurial proposals, it is indeed time for the City of Langley to step up to its safety and transportation responsibilities to property owners and the public. It is beyond time for the city of Langley to stabilize and ensure safe, long-term traffic on Wharf Street. Commercial property depends on a functional Wharf Street in equal measure with residential and mixed use parcels.
The recent landslide in Oso, Snohomish County, is a reminder that to ignore serious warnings of continuing landslides has consequences that beggar the imagination in both human and financial terms.
I believe that after consideration of all that is known about slides, Whidbey soil, Wharf Street, deteriorating sidewalks and pavement on Cascade Avenue and the history of short-term fixes, the City of Langley has little choice but to put the money that is available from the council to appropriate public use. Any additional needed funds to complete the job must be acquired and expended in order to make Wharf Street whole and consequently assure safe passage on Wharf and no more slippage intruding onto pedestrian and vehicular surfaces on Cascade Avenue.
Please let me know what comes of your in-depth plan to solve a serious safety issue. This is not an idle request. I believe as a property owner I need honest and open answers to the issues raised in this message. I expect a solution through the use of public funds that are available to the City of Langley.
Editor’s note: Kathleen Waters is a former Langley resident who now lives in Seattle and is member of the Normandy Park City Council.