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2 seek Port of Coupeville position | Corrected

Port of Coupeville commissioner candidates Laura Blankenship and Mike Diamanti discuss the Greenbank Farm during a forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Whidbey Island League of Women voters.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Port of Coupeville commissioner candidates Laura Blankenship and Mike Diamanti discuss the Greenbank Farm during a forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Whidbey Island League of Women voters.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

With the election looming, Port of Coupeville candidates are expressing  concerns about the way the Greenbank Farm is being managed.

The Port of Coupeville pays the Greenbank Farm Management Group approximately $50,000 a year to operate the publicly owned farm.

“The port has consistently not been well served by the management group,” candidate Laura Blankenship said during Tuesday’s candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters at the Coupeville Recreation Hall.

Blankenship, a past director of the port-owned farm’s Management Group, is competing against Mike Diamanti for a seat on the Port of Coupeville board of commissioners. It was vacated by Ann McDonald. The term lasts for six years.

Blankenship didn’t go into any details during the forum about the management group’s faults. She noted that the next several years will be crucial for the port. In 2012, a review begins of the Greenbank Farm. She said the review should also cover all of the port’s properties, which includes the Coupeville Wharf at the end of the pier on Front Street to ensure they remain operational.

“How do you manage these in an economically responsible way,” Blankenship said during the voters forum. She is currently the executive director for the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation, which raises money to support the hospital.

The Management Group’s arrangement with the port ends in 2014 and, in 2017, the port’s $100,000 annual mortgage payment for the farm will end.

A sparse crowd attended the Tuesday forum. There is only one contested race affecting voters on Central Whidbey Island. Three Coupeville Town Council seats and the mayor’s seat are up for election in November, however, each spot has only one candidate.

Blankenship and Diamanti have both been involved with the Greenbank Farm for years.

While Blankenship managed the farm for years until her resignation in 2006, Diamanti was the first manager of the Whidbey Pies Cafe and was a volunteer for the committee that developed the Port of Coupeville’s Comprehensive Plan.

Diamanti said that the port has an interesting task with the Greenbank Farm while it tries to encourage business development while preserving the surrounding agriculture and environmentally sensitive lands.

“Even though its contradictory, its quite an interesting challenge,” Diamanti said.

Both candidates noted the importance of maintaining the Coupeville Wharf to ensure its economic viability to the town.

Even though all of the Coupeville candidates are running unopposed in November, they were on hand to talk during the forum. They mostly touted the town’s recent accomplishments such as upgrading the water system and wastewater treatment plant while maintaining the town’s finances during the economic downturn.

The League of Women Voters ‘ next forum for candidates running for office on North Whidbey Island, along with officials talking about a renewal levy for the Vanderzicht Memorial Pool, will take place Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge.

 

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