Whidbey Island Fairgrounds property transfer wraps up

The votes are in, the signatures signed and the deed filed. The Port of South Whidbey is now the official owner of the fairgrounds.

The nearly five-month process to transfer the property from Island County to the port wrapped up this week following two public meetings where both entities formally approved the transfer. The filing of the deed on Friday made the deal official, while also providing the final green light needed for a host of planned facility improvements.

“Now the work begins,” said Port Commissioner Ed Halloran, president of the board.

That’s a bit of a misnomer, as the port has spent the past two years functioning as a property manager, putting together a successful ballot proposal to own and fund the property, and finally working with the county on a comprehensive transfer agreement. Halloran said the approved deal was about two and half inches thick.

Now that it is done, however, the board isn’t planning on taking a break. Within the first month, port officials hope to have an advisory board of stakeholders in place that will shepherd fairgrounds improvements and changes — a condition of the property transfer — and secure $515,000 from a loan or with a bond.

“Those are the two things that need to happen right away,” said Angi Mozer, executive director for the port.

The cash will jump start a $1.67 million plan to address immediate needs at the fairgrounds over the next two years. The bond or loan will provide immediate funding, as the $200,000 of dedicated funding per year secured by voters in the ballot request won’t start coming in until later this year.

The remaining $1.15 million is expected to come from unsecured grants.

Mozer also said she was looking forward to the day ahead.

“We’re the brand new owner of a not so shiny fairgrounds, so that’s pretty exciting,” Mozer said.

Port commissioners officially approved the property transfer at a special meeting on Wednesday evening. According to Halloran, no members of the public showed up, and the deal was OK’d in a 2-0 vote; Halloran and Commissioner Curt Gordon voted for the transfer.

Commission Jack Ng was out of the country and therefore not present. In a later interview, Ng said he would have voted to approve the transfer, calling the finalized deal and the scope of work a “win, win.” Port leaders are enthused about the economic development possibilities that they hope will come with a revitalized fairgrounds, and the community gets a slew of long needed improvements.

“I can’t wait to see things moving,” Ng said.

The Island County Commissioners held a similar meeting on Tuesday, where the board unanimously approved the transfer and the conditions.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said she began going to the fairgrounds with her grandmother when she was just 7 years old. She’s now carrying on that tradition with her granddaughter.

“I’m not unusual,” Price Johnson said. “The people of Island County have poured heart and soul into that property for generations, and I think the way this transfer is taking place preserves that legacy and supports the generous spirit of our community.”

“I’m very excited about the bright future that’s ahead,” she added.

More in News

New education, training program for juvenile court

Island County Juvenile Court will soon start a pilot program aimed at… Continue reading

Paula Ludtke, SWHS teacher and choir director, sang a rendition of “Thanks for the Memories” to Chris Gibson to honor him for his five years of service as Foundation Board President. Photo provided. Photo by Laura Canby.
Schools foundation ends year with gala, awards

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation followed up its annual fundraising gala —… Continue reading

Expert says chief followed right protocol

David Marks’ arrest of suspect ‘exactly what we teach’

Photos by Whidbey Camano Land Trust
                                Taylor Schmuki, left, and Kyle Ostermick-Durkee, both part of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s stewardship team, study the plant life this spring in a newly protected forest on South Whidbey.
Conservation Buyer Saves a Whidbey Island Forest

By RON NEWBERRY Special to the Record Pat Powell has worked with… Continue reading

Sailor shoots man, himself

A Navy man shot another man and then himself in Oak Harbor… Continue reading

Trooper, ranger try to prevent man from jumping off bridge

A trooper with the Washington State Patrol and a ranger with State… Continue reading

Valetta Faye will perform at Ott & Murphy Wines in Langley.
Singing sensation comes to South Whidbey

Singing is her passion, music is her soul. That’s singer Valetta Faye’s… Continue reading

Shhh…it’s a surprise party for old-timer Bill Lanning

Friends, customers invited to celebrate former owner of Bill’s Feed Tack

Retail sales grew in Island County, Langley

New numbers released by the state Department of Revenue show that Island… Continue reading

Most Read