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Coupeville hits its mark

After a quick two month fund-raising campaign, volunteers have collected enough money for the town to purchase two waterfront lots on Front Street in downtown Coupeville.

That purchase prevents the open space next to Toby’s Tavern from being developed.

Volunteers raised the $360,000 needed to purchase the property, which was owned by John Rodriguey, who also owns the tavern.

Donors from as far away as North Carolina and Texas joined with locals to contribute. In all, 255 people donated money.

The Whelan family and the Pickard family headed up fund-raising and put their money where their efforts were by contributing $100,000 each toward the purchase.

“We knew right from the beginning that this was going to happen,” said Jan Pickard. The large donations from both families inspired other potential donors to contribute.

Pickard pointed out that another local family provided $25,000.

“We got a big boost from the McPherson’s — Molly and Joan,” Pickard said. The McPhersons are both lawyers in town.

Mayor Nancy Conard said the fund-raising effort was amazing, particularly the generosity of the Whelan and Pickard families.

Even though the money has been raised, the town still has to go through the formalities of closing on the property.

In the spring, talk will begin on how to use the property and to find ways to pay for whatever the use is. There is some sentiment for installing a public viewing deck on the property which overlooks Penn Cove.

At one point, there were plans to build a steakhouse on the site but those plans changed after a long, continuing debate about what kind of use to permit there. Rodriguey decided to offer the land to the town, which secured a purchase option in October. The volunteer fund-raisers easily beat the Aug. 1, 2008 deadline needed to raise the money.

The property’s original price tag was set at $400,000; however, the town renegotiated that down to $360,000 later in the year.

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