New wharf-like deck proposed in Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
November 9, 2011 · Updated 8:53 AM
Plans were unveiled Tuesday showing what would appear to be a second wharf at the opposite end of Front Street in historic downtown Coupeville.
Instead of a long pier with businesses at the end of it, it would be a community deck located in part of the vacant waterfront space between Toby’s Tavern and the Knead and Feed.
The land came into public ownership several years ago after the community raised money in order to prevent a new restaurant from being constructed on the waterfront.
Coupeville-based architect Stig Carlson was hired by the town to come up with possible designs. He said during a recent Coupeville Town Council meeting that the design shows a deck that won’t obstruct the views from Front Street by being built below street level, will have access to the water, and include kayak storage and public restrooms.
The proposed deck would be similar to the piers that historically used to line the town’s waterfront. Currently the only such facility is the venerable Coupeville Wharf located at the corner of Front and Alexander streets.
He said he has been working on the project since the spring. He’s met with town officials and community leaders who spearheaded the fundraising effort. He said people favored the design he presented Tuesday night. He received suggestions that the deck should be closer to the water, provide public restrooms — which would be tucked near the Knead and Feed — and provide a place for kayak storage.
Mayor Nancy Conard noted during the meeting the deck could provide a connection between the two businesses that are separated from the rest of downtown.
There are several challenges that come with building another deck on Front Street; the biggest being money.
“We have no designated funding source for this project,” Conard said.
Conard said that although there wasn’t any money for the deck project, the town should have a plan ready if an opportunity arises. She said the deck would reflect people’s interest in having an additional gathering place on Front Street.
In addition, the retaining wall would have to be replaced, utilities located underneath the project would have to be accounted for in the design and it would have to conform to town code and shoreline regulations.
Carlson noted that there is midden material, which could be evidence of a past Native American presence, located on the property. He described material on the site as basically piles of shells that were shucked by Native Americans.
Newly sworn in council member Larry Cort questioned how significant the Native American material was and said that the town should discover its importance. He said he’s become well versed in state archeological law in recent months. He works for the city of Oak Harbor managing the Pioneer Way reconstruction project, which was delayed after Native American remains were found on the construction site.
Town council members seemed optimistic about the proposed plan.
“I love the restrooms and I love the kayak storage,” council member Molly Hughes said of the proposed design. She questioned the potential cost of the project and whether it could be expanded closer to Toby’s Tavern.
Carlson said the deck has to be built to try and save the oldest, closest tree, which is next to the popular tavern.
Town officials didn’t have any costs yet concerning the project, simply noting that the designs are preliminary.
The next step is to hold public meetings to gauge public sentiment. A date hasn’t been announced yet for those public meetings.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.