Letter: Port should talk to public before buying airport


Thanks go to Bill Roberts for alerting us about the efforts of the Coupeville (Central Whidbey) Port Commission to purchase the A. J. Eisenberg Airport. Since reading Bill’s letter, I have also been concerned about the feasibility of this project.

I think the most important argument against the project is that it’s not even in the Coupeville Port District’s taxable area. Shouldn’t there be a North Whidbey Port District that makes the decision to buy since they will benefit from it the most? If it’s such an important investment, why are both the Oak Harbor and Coupeville councils so lukewarm about getting involved?

We should then ask who will benefit from this purchase the most? The one time I flew to SeaTac, all the others on board were either from Oak Harbor or the Navy base. I also assume the few wealthy residents who own planes and those who can afford to fly from Whidbey to SeaTac will also benefit. Oh, by the way, small planes do not fly to SeaTac anymore. They fly to Boeing Field and must be bussed to SeaTac. I’m sure a high percentage of island residents will not take advantage of these airport services.

I, for one, and many others will continue taking the Whidbey/SeaTac Shuttle (which is much more environmentally friendly), board it closer to our home and save a few bucks.

Presently the port owns two large pieces of property: the Coupeville Wharf and the Greenbank Farm. Shouldn’t the commission spend more of their efforts caring for these two parcels?

Early on, the Greenbank Farm had its own local management group. That gave “ownership” to the Greenbank area, and these “owners” sponsored a large festival and weekly markets. That support from the port was taken away several years ago.

We’re already committed to funding the shoring up of the wharf. Being one of the few remaining historic wharfs in the U.S., we should complete this project before taking on any more expensive projects.

And expensive is what the cost of buying the airport would be. The Port has already spent $55,000 just for earnest money. This money was collected from port district taxpayers (its boundaries being the Coupeville School District) for the purpose of “promoting economic development.”

Are we taxpayers going to allow them to add the airport which is outside the port district’s boundaries to that list? The port director has already promised another $200,000 without consulting us (his constituents) to pay for a feasibility study. And I’m sure the costs involved with refurbishing the airport will be huge. And then there’s upkeep.

With such a large investment, why hasn’t there been a well-advertised public meeting to discuss this action? We are the taxable members of the port district and we should be involved in making that decision.

Vern Olsen