Island County eyes new road to airpark

A potentially prime location for new, living-wage jobs in Island County sits in the woods toward the end of a windy, private road on South Whidbey. That road may be what’s stifling the area’s potential.

A consultant recently performed a study on the economic development potential at Whidbey Airpark, located on Crawford Road, if the county were to create a public road to access it. Staff presented the findings to the Island County Board of Commissioners Wednesday.

“We’re in one of the best positions we’ve been in, if we’re going to move this forward,” Assistant County Engineer Connie Bowers told commissioners.

Businesses have shown significant interest in moving into the area — which has plenty of room for growth and is one of the few areas on the island with industrial zoning — but state road restrictions prevent further development, Bowers said.

The private road isn’t considered sufficient to support more traffic, she said, and has served as a deterrent to some businesses. Large trucks or semis containing products or materials would have a difficult time navigating the twisting private road with its large speed bumps, Bowers said.

Providing public access from the highway to the airpark is in the county’s long-term transportation plan, but there isn’t any dedicated funding.

The recent study, which was paid for with a grant, also looked at potential funding sources as well as projecting a new road’s economic impact.

The consultant recommended that the county form a road improvement taxing district to fund some of the costs, as well as apply for multiple grants.

One appropriate grant would be the county’s Rural Economic Development Infrastructure program, which is aimed toward creating and retaining jobs in the county, Bowers said.

The consultant estimated that adding a public road to the airpark would add between four and six jobs each year for the 20-year forecast period. The area would also likely generate approximately $800,000 in annual local and state sales tax revenue, according to the report.

Public works staff estimate the new road construction would cost about $5.1 million.

The consultant reported that the county would likely see a return on investment within 10 years.

Commissioners told staff to continue preliminary engineering but said they would need more information before exploring other ways to fund the project.

More in News

Employment picture returning to normal in county

Island County unemployment is slowing returning closer to normal as pandemic restrictions ease.

Oak Harbor man charged for brandishing pellet gun

The 21-year-old man is facing a felony charge.

Report: Tax funded 6.6 miles of road work

There are more street improvement projects on the way.

Wright’s Crossing loses 5th appeal

Wright’s Crossing’s proposed housing development south of Oak Harbor lost was blocked again.

Whidbey man shot to death in Whatcom County

Bellingham woman was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder.

Photo by Christina Whiting
Peter Smith-Case of Case Farm sells some veggies to some interested buyers at the opening Saturday of the Coupeville Farmers Market this past weekend.
Island’s farmers market season gets underway

The Coupeville Farmers Market opened last weekend and more markets are coming up.

Fire department holding commissioner elections

South Whidbey Fire/EMS seeks a new fire commissioner to fill Position 3,… Continue reading

SmileMobile bound for Langley

The SmileMobile is headed to the South Whidbey April 12-14. The dentist… Continue reading

Stefen Bosworth, co-owner and chef of Savory, cooks up some squid ink linguine. (Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)
Couple ventures into restaurant business

“Eclectic comfort food” is on the menu at Langley’s newest restaurant, Savory.

Most Read