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Fairgrounds road settled

After a 20-month dispute between the city of Langley and the Island County Fair Board, the county commissioners approved temporary construction and public right-of-way easements for Fairgrounds Road on Monday.

“It was a long haul and I came in on the tail end of it,” said Commissioner John Dean on Friday. “Some people still aren’t happy, but it had to happen. I’m just glad it’s done. It feels good.”

Langley City Planner Larry Cort, answering questions on behalf of the city engineer, assuaged the county commissioners’ concerns. The concerns ranged from alignment of the road, to storm water drainage issues, to the turn radius for vehicles entering the fairgrounds.

In April, Commissioner Mike Shelton was successful in facilitating an agreement amenable to both parties. Monday officially put the issue to bed and paved the way for paving.

Fair officials worried the road, which skirts the edge of the fairgrounds, would interfere with fair activities and pose a safety threat. At first they refused an easement, but settled before the dispute could go to court. Langley wanted the road to ease traffic congestion.

Fair administrator Sandey Brandon expressed in a letter read out loud at the meeting her concern with the county declaring the property “surplus.” She first affirmed the right of the county, with the consent of the fair board, to accede to Langley’s demand for fairgrounds land that will accommodate a city street to benefit the Highlands development.

“However, declaring that land surplus is yet one more lie in an ongoing tissue of lies which your constituents have been asked to swallow by tacit consent,” the letter stated. “The Island County Fairgrounds has no surplus land. What it has is irreplaceable land that someone else covets.”

Dean said on Friday that “surplus” is a legal term the county had to use.

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