The July 26 “Sound Off” by Kathleen Waters alleges the City of Langley is not making proper use of $500,000 in Island County grant funds, originally allocated to a Wharf Street upgrade request eight years ago. Unfortunately, the article has several inaccurate assertions that need to be corrected:
1. The original grant was revised to apply to a funicular/elevator pedestrian access project, so it can no longer be used for Wharf Street changes. In 2013 the original grant request was expanded by an additional $258,000 towards the funicular/elevator proposal, bringing total grant funding to $500,000. Since parking at the marina is very limited, the city and the Port of South Whidbey agree that providing easier pedestrian access is key to expansion of marina usage.
2. The city has undertaken a number of steps to stabilize the bluff, which was subject to surface runoff sloughing last year, not a collapse. Expert consultants advised the removal of a number of overgrown, heavy tree tops because they could cause further sloughing. New appropriate native plantings have been established in the two sloughed-off areas.
3. Most importantly, ground water seepage has been addressed both by moving Cascade Avenue back from the bluff some 6 feet, and by extensive improvements to storm water drainage under Cascade Avenue. These recent improvements, part of the Second Street project, direct excess rain runoff away from the top of the bluff. Additional native plantings are planned for the top of the Cascade Bluff.
4. Acting upon expert engineering advice, the city has set up a laser-calibrated monitoring program along Cascade Bluff, providing accurate data on whether any further subsidence is occurring.
5. The current county-approved grant for either a funicular or elevator for easy pedestrian access from Cascade Avenue to the marina area would have minimal impact on the bluff, much less than major retaining walls and widening of Wharf Street. It should also be a boon to all property owners at the base of the bluff, including the Port of South Whidbey.
Langley City Councilman