A proposal to allocate city funding towards a beautification project proposed by the leaders of Langley Creates, the area’s creative district, was supported with some hesitancy from members of Langley City Council.
Inge Morascini, chamber director, presented to the council Jan. 18 a plan to connect the city’s downtown core with South Whidbey Community Center, where some mural projects have been happening recently.
“What our hope is, by creating a corridor, people naturally go backwards and forwards and explore the creative zone, giving us the opportunity to provide additional venues and projects at the community center, at WICA and also at the fairgrounds,” she said.
Phase one of the project would improve the landscaping along the corridor and add artistic elements, such as painted sidewalks. Phase two would involve the development of “parklets,” small seating areas along the corridor where walkers can sit down and enjoy the view.
The Washington State Arts Commission is asking for a total of $15,000 in funds to be matched for the project. Morascini said Island County has already contributed $4,000. The creative district is asking for an additional $3,500 to come from the city. A total of $7,500 of non-monetary contributions, such as volunteers and materials, are also needed.
She asked the city council to consider making a commitment for the funds.
While supportive of the project, council members wondered where the money would come from.
“Our budget is very tight right now,” Finance Director Monica Felici said. “We cut every which way we can. I don’t know where the funds would come from out of our budget.”
Councilmember Gail Fleming assured Morascini that the council was taking the request seriously.
“Just because we’re niggling about money isn’t an indication that we don’t think this is important,” she said.
Morascini explained that the project needs to be completed within the next two years, meaning the funds will also need to be raised within that timeframe.
In the end, it was decided that the city could only commit to non-monetary costs in 2022. Mayor Scott Chaplin wrote a letter to the Washington State Arts Commission Jan. 26 showing the city’s support for the project. Money that has already been budgeted by the city for beautification costs in the area of the Cascade Avenue bluff, such as mowing, can be put towards the project and qualify as “in kind” contributions that are also needed. Chaplin estimated that $3,000 to $5,000 has already been budgeted for that city work.
It will be up to private individuals and civic groups to raise the rest of the money for the creative district’s project. Chaplin said when Langley does its budget for 2023, it’s possible some monetary contributions might be able to be allocated then if the council agrees.