County awards $3M to Langley for infrastructure projects

County commissioners have decided to give restorations at the Coupeville Wharf and improvements to East Langley a lift.

The Island County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday on applications for the Rural County Economic Development Infrastructure Investment Program.

The grant program is designed to support facility projects that help create and retain jobs using money the county receives from a sales tax rebate from the state.

The largest sum of money was awarded to Langley on the condition the city’s voters approve a bond and it receives other grants for its extensive infrastructure project ambitions. The $3 million awarded will go toward infrastructure improvements to extend and improve sewer, storm water and water lines in East Langley.

The project is meant to increase density and facilitate more affordable housing development, which will support the South End’s workforce, according to the application.

Many local businesses are currently restrained from expansion because of an inability to hire enough labor, the application states.

“I really appreciated the tie-in that Langley made between the need for workforce and job creation,” Johnson said. “If you create jobs, and there’s nobody who can work in them, then you’ve actually created nothing but a need.”

Commissioners accepted the Port of Coupeville’s ask for $870,804 to go toward replacing aging and deteriorated pier pilings that support the wharf.

The port also committed $96,756 of its own funds to complete the nearly million-dollar project.

All of the commissioners spoke to the importance of preserving the historic structure, though Commissioner Jill Johnson said she hopes the port is looking at other funding opportunities.

“I do want to task the port with doing its job to maintain its own assets and to come up with a plan to do so,” Johnson said.

“I’m happy to do my part in supporting this grant,” she later added. “And I’m happy to see their continued efforts.”

Oak Harbor made two requests for this year’s funding cycle, one of which was denied and the other postponed until the city provides more information.

Commissioners notified Oak Harbor staff that they do not believe its request for more than $500,000 to provide alternative access to a parcel of land off Fakkema Road fulfills the intent of the grant program.

During presentations to the board, city staff said one business owned the land and access would potentially create two jobs.

In discussions about the project, commissioners were also concerned that the developers who would benefit most from the project weren’t bearing any of the costs of the road.

Oak Harbor also submitted an application for $630,000 to purchase and develop a dry-boat storage facility at the marina. The city also proposed re-establishing the service and maintenance aspect of the business to increase service options available at the marina.

The commissioners asked the city to provide a business plan and appraisal of the facility by Oct. 31.

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