July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:35 PM
"The last time a movie company wanted to film along Coupeville's historic waterfront, its offer was resoundingly rejected after a series of contentious public meetings. The majority at the time - many who had weathered previous film shoots in Coupeville - felt movie crews caused too much disruption for too little compensation. But many others likened the rejection to killing the golden goose.Now the town is working on a way to make movies worth its while.At a public meeting hosted last Wednesday by Coupeville's Ad Hoc Film Committee chairman Jack McPherson, the town may have found some answers. The one thing that seems to be bringing people together is that even those who are not in favor of it would concede if the town would benefit, McPherson said.That's benefits as in an up-front fees to be paid into a town fund ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per day, depending on the level of activity, he said. The Ad Hoc Film Committee was formed last summer, shortly after producers of A Leonard Cohen Afterworld were told to find another town to film in. The movie was eventually shot in Langley and quickly tanked.After that, the mayor's thought was we should get some folks together, gather information and find out what people do want, McPherson said.The results of the committees findings will eventually be forwarded to the town council and used to craft a town ordinance to address filming in Coupeville - if and when Hollywood beckons again.Currently, the town has an ordinance that covers permits and parades, McPherson said. But it doesn't cover something as complex as shutting down streets and painting buildings, he added. Hopefully we'll take the information and produce a better ordinance. That's why the committee was formed, to give the town council info they can work with.Compensating merchants will be a separate issue, according to McPherson.The mayor pointed out the town can only authorize the use of rights of way in the town, he said. If they (movie companies) want to use individual buildings or businesses, they have to work with those affected.About 35 people attended Wednesday's meeting, McPherson said, adding that filming fans and critics were well represented. We're not gonna give anything away, McPherson said. We felt that in Coupeville, we subject ourselves to stringent historical review, sign and zoning ordinances, and if someone has come in and produces something that benefits from that, its not going to be for nothing.--------------------COUPEVILLE NOTESPublic invited to plan Ebey's futureAnyone interested in the future of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve will have a chance to shape its new general management plan during public meetings in Coupeville and Seattle next week.The purpose for the meetings are to guide future management efforts for the 17,000-acre Reserve, said manager Rob Harbour.People who have experienced the Reserve's rolling farmland, scenic pathways and quiet beaches know what a gem this place is, Harbour said. The idea for a Reserve started with local citizens. Now citizen involvement can help provide a clear sense of direction for the years to come.Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve is managed by a trust board under a partnership with the town of Coupeville, Island County, Washington State Parks and the National Parks Service.Initial public meetings, called scoping meetings, will be held in Seattle June 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the REI Flagship store at 222 Yale Ave. N., in the second-floor meeting room.Coupeville will be the location of the second meeting June 21, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and again from 7-9 p.m. at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, 901 N.W. Alexander St.Fire hall's future debatedIs $188,000 too much to spend to bring Coupeville's Fire Hall back up to code?That's a question Coupeville's Town Council considered at at its meeting last Tuesday, and a decision the town would like a little help in making.We're anxious to get the word out to as many people as possible and see what they want to do with it, Town Planner Larry Cort.The town recently paid $3,200 for a structural and historical review of the 1937-era building, the results of which are now available at Town Hall.The building is one of the 52 designated historic properties in Coupeville and has been evaluated four times in the past. Each time, it was determined the fire hall needed significant improvements to bring it up to code.Some who attended last Tuesday's council meeting thought the fire hall deserved restoration.In the first place, I think this town is too eager to tear down old buildings, resident Janet Enzman said. For example the old courthouse, which was torn down, fit this town to a T.Enzman, who also conducts walking tours of Coupeville for the Island County Historical Museum, said the old fire hall/museum is . I think its a fun building and it's important to preserve buildings from the past, she said. It's a funky old building but it has character.Others, like councilman Frank Tippets, aren't so sure.Based on the information in the report, it's a very high cost to make it sound, compared to what a new building would cost, Tippets said, adding, I would characterize it's historical value as marginal, based on my interpretation of the report. The town has three options, Tippets said: sell the building, demolish it and do something else with the property, or restore it.To date, Mayor Conard said, several people have expressed interest in purchasing the old fire hall but no firm offers have come forward.After receiving comments and suggestions from the public, Conard will bring a recommendation back to the council concerning the fire hall's fate.To comment on the proposals for the fire hall, contact Coupeville Town Hall, either by calling 678-4461, or writing to Town Planner Larry Cort or Mayor Nancy Conard at: Town of Coupeville, P.O. Box 725, Coupeville 98239; or by e-mail to Cort at: email@example.com or to Conard at: firstname.lastname@example.org."