"Road is bound to erode, residents say"
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:00 PM
"Glendale Creek Canyon residents told county commissioners Monday that a proposed road reconstruction project in their Clinton-area community will lead to a tragic cycle of more traffic, more erosion, more slides, more environmental damage and back to more reconstruction.Once you start maintaining a road up Glendale Canyon you're going to have to keep maintaining the road, said Lorinda Kay, a member of a community group called Friends of Glendale Creek. Our priority is protecting the stream, not protecting the road.Kay was joined by about 40 others who had gathered in the commissioners' hearing room in Coupeville to lobby for an alternative to repairing Glendale Road. The road suffered a devastating slide during the very wet winter of 1996 which left only slide-prone Humphrey Road for community access. The 1996 slide also scoured out a new path for Glendale Creek, destroyed a 50-year-old, 400-foot, fish-inhibiting culvert and reopened the stream to migrating salmon. Fearing that the community could be cut off completely if a slide struck Humphrey Road, county officials came up with a plan that they said would fix Glendale Road without harming the environment. The plan includes rebuilding about 600 feet of the lower stream to encourage salmon and reconstructing about 1,800 feet of the two-lane Glendale Road using about 150 feet of rock wall to help stabilize the slope. Though many of the friends spoke highly of the lower stream work now being done, they strongly objected to the replacement of the upper part of the road. Group member Don Miller said the stabilization wall could be as high as 16 feet in sections. He told the commissioners that the road project would create a long gutter down Glendale Canyon - a condition that he said would cause more erosion and slide problems in the future.We should treat this like a watershed as opposed to just another road project, he said.Several group members said they didn't much care for the access the Glendale Road once provided to more cars, delivery vehicles and last-minute commuters speeding through on their way to the Clinton ferry. But they insisted that theirs was a plea to save an environmentally fragile area and not a self-centered attempt to preserve peace in their now-quieter community.There is a higher use for this creek and it's not a road, said Tom Fisher, who lives about a mile away from the canyon. Is this a watershed or a peopleshed?Glendale Road resident Mindy Thompson encouraged the commissioners not to strictly focus on salmon habitat. She said the current environment also provides a home for deer, fox, beaver, trout, eagles, salamanders, frogs and other wildlife.There are very few places that have this much diversity, she said.Most of the speakers said they favored a one-lane emergency road that could primarily be used as a pedestrian path. In a written statement on behalf of the Citizens Growth Management Coalition, South Whidbey resident Dean Enell said the Glendale Creek area was an opportunity for the county to do more by doing less.We can accomplish this not by spending more money, but by spending less and allowing nature to take its course, he said.Kay told the commissioners that more than 99 percent of Glendale residents support the one-lane road concept. She said more people had wanted to attend Monday morning's meeting but could not because of work. She asked the commissioners to hold an evening meeting sometime within the next month so that more people could be heard.The commissioners said they would try to set up such a meeting. They offered no comment and made no decisions regarding the proposed road project. "