A plan to relocate a bus stop in Langley hit a pothole this week.
The Langley City Council discussed moving a bus stop on Anthes Avenue and Third Street to Anthes and Second Street at its regular meeting on Monday night. Though the proposed move was only a block away, it generated resistance from both police and business owners, who complained about potential parking headaches and whether the move was really needed.
At the end of the day the council decided to hold off on a decision until it had weighed the issue more carefully.
“We need to do a little more studying on this before we make any sort of decision,” Councilman Thomas Gill said. “We should go to public works and planning, work with Chief Marks and Island Transit to find alternatives and then bring those back for discussion.”
The impetus for the move was based on concerns that the existing bus stop had become a hot spot for dealing drugs. It is especially worrisome to Councilman Bruce Allen.
“The reason I brought this to the forefront is because I’m the president of the board at the HUB, and I’m very adamant about what goes on in front of that place,” Allen said. “I’m tired of parents calling to say they don’t want their kid at the HUB because of the drug deals going on.”
The bus stop is located across the street from the HUB, an after school program for children.
Not everyone is convinced a problem exists. Langley Police Chief Dave Marks said he initially supported the idea but changed his position. That drug deals are happening there is “a perception people have not based on fact.” When the Langley Police Department responds to calls about the bus stop, officers often find drug deals aren’t taking place, Marks said.
He believed some of the calls were made due to the appearance of some who hang out around the bus stop, and added they can’t profile people based on how they look or dress. He added he thinks relocating to the space in front of Good Cheer would “cause more problems than what it’s worth.”
“As far as drug dealing going on at bus stops, I’m sorry, but it isn’t like that,” Marks said. “When people want to go deal drugs, they go in their home and make an exchange. They’re not out on a corner.”
Others at the meeting said the suggested move would be detrimental to parking. Marilee Seligson, president of the Good Cheer board, said the spots across Second Street from Good Cheer are taken in the mornings by trucks unloading goods for stores in the area. The parking spots, which are on the corner where U.S. Bank is located, are then occupied by a food truck after 1 p.m.
Taking up more of those valuable spaces in downtown Langley would cause problems and more congestion for store owners, she said.
“There’s a real decrease in the number of spaces we have,” Seligson said. “I think by moving the bus stop and taking those places, I think it wouldn’t only affect us, but other businesses as well.”
Other suggestions were floated at the meeting, such as on Second Street in front of Whidbey Telecom’s Big Gig Center.
Mayor Tim Callison said the city officials needed to rethink where the stop could be moved to, or if a move was necessary. Before moving forward, the city council decided to bring together the stakeholders to decide the best way to proceed. The council agreed and tabled the issue until its next meeting.