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Two lead Front Street purchase effort

Two community leaders are heading up the town of Coupeville’s efforts to raise the $400,000 needed to buy and preserve a waterfront lot on historic Front Street.

Jan Pickard and Paul Whelan have been tapped by the town to lead the community fundraising effort. They have until August 2008 to come up with the money to buy the two lots between Toby’s Tavern and the public deck.

“We are dedicated, like my parents Alden and Lucile Whelan, to preserving both the historical character and economic vitality of Coupeville,” Whelan said in a written statement. “We believe that developing these two open lots as a gathering place where people can come enjoy the wonderful views of Penn Cove and Mount Baker will assist in both of these endeavors.”

Mayor Nancy Conard said that the group is brainstorming ways in the next week to approach potential donors to provide money. She hopes to have some initial donors lined up in a week.

The town council approved a purchase option for the two lots on Front Street with the owner, John Rodriguey, doing business through Front Street Holdings. The town is under a timeline to get the money together. The town had to provide a token $25 payment when council members formally approved the option. The town has until Jan. 4, 2008 to come up with 10 percent payment of $40,000. The full purchase price for the property has to be in escrow by Aug. 1, 2008.

There is a proposal to turn the lot into a restaurant, however, those plans are on hold until the deadline.

Some people attending the town council meeting last month were critical of the price tag.

The properties are assessed at $113,466, which is far lower than the amount the town is trying to pay.

Island County Assessor Dave Mattens said that because of the property slope and shoreline management plan regulations, the property is accurately assessed.

“We believe we have the property valued appropriately,” Mattens said.

Conard said the town is reviewing the assessment. She also said that was the price that was agreed upon by both sides.

“The good news is we have a seller and an agreed upon price,” Conard said. The town had approached the property owners of the vacant waterfront lots on Front Street, but didn’t have any willing sellers.

The mayor said Pickard was chosen because she is a lifetime Coupeville resident and she said she would be willing to help with any acquisition efforts. Whelan’s name came up while talking to residents.

The ad-hoc committee has begun to seek contributions to purchase the property. All donations are tax deductible and can be sent directly to the town of Coupeville, PO Box 726, Coupeville, WA 98239. Donations will be used only for the property purchase.

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