Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Group does not advocate vandalism

To the editor:

As a spokesman for "Save Our Beaches," I would like to defend our group of public access advocates against recent charges leveled by Christine Nyburg. These unsupported charges include vandalism, putting out uninformed and biased information, threatening and harassing people whose interest conflict with those of "Save Our Beaches" and trespass.

"Save Our Beaches" never has and never will advocate vandalism, threats or harassment. We are a grassroots group formed to defend and improve public water access in Island County. We seek to do this by peaceful, legal means.

We have spent the last nine months waiting patiently, without incident, for a legal review of the Greenbank Road public access by the Island County Prosecutor's Office. That review was completed Feb. 18 and is now before the board of commissioners. Hopefully it will soon be released to the public. It makes no sense for us to jeopardize our good record by indulging in childish acts of petty vandalism. The accusation is untrue and unsupported. There have been no threats or harassment by any members of our group.

All information about the Greenbank Road public access issue distributed by "Save Our Beaches" has been thoroughly researched by interviews with local old-timers, hours and hours spent sifting through the records, letters and old photographs at the Island County Historical Society and the Washington State Historical Society. Most of our legal information and maps came from files at the Island County Department of Public Works.

These files also contain a record of formal complaints by Greenbank citizens documenting 38 years of private encroachment on Greenbank's community public access. I would be happy to share the results of this research with Christine if she would like to check the accuracy of the information we have supplied. The accusation that we have put out uninformed and biased information is untrue and unsupported.

My personal knowledge of the Greenbank Road public access goes back to 1973 when our local Realtor, Leonna Aker, identified it to us as a public access. Old-timers Ben and Ruth Lamphere recalled the community picnics held at the beach there through the '60s and warned of the encroachment by the Montgomery's predecessor. This beach access is one or the reasons we chose to make our home in Greenbank. Our children, grandchildren, neighbors and guests have used it constantly for the last 36 years.

In 1976-77 I was a member of a citizens' lay committee, chaired by local hero Harry Wilbert, that helped produce the Island County Public Access Study. We visited and researched every known public access in the county. The results were published by the Island County Planning Department and it remains the only complete inventory of public accesses and tidelands in Island County. The Greenbank access is identified in this study as being county owned. There has been no trespass. This is a public road leading to the water. Public usage was continuous until the Montgomerys built a stone wall blocking access to and from the water in the summer of 2008.

The Greenbank Road community public access has not "been in private hands for 40 years." It has been in unbroken public use by the community of Greenbank for at least 103 years and by Native Americans for ages before that. Greenbank Road leads inland from a sheltered anchorage and is the original site of the town of Greenbank. It is a priceless, low-bank landing and historic cultural site, a public property that that must be defended and retained by the county for the future benefit of all of its citizens. It is Greenbank's only public access to the sheltered waters of Holmes Harbor. If the Montgomerys' Wall is allowed to stand Greenbank will be landlocked.

Glen Russell

"Save Our Beaches"

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