Council reacts with questions

While Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen says that city council support of downtown redevelopment is the key to making it happen, her proposal got a mixed reaction from the council members themselves.

Councilman Danny Paggao, for example, said that something definitely needs to be done to improve business downtown and rehabilitate the unsightly and empty storefronts.

Yet Paggao said the city should concentrate on building a municipal pier, which would help bring foot traffic downtown. He said he “noticed” Cohen didn’t mention the pier in her presentation.

Also, Paggao said he was surprised by some of the mayor’s proposals, especially her suggestion to take on a Navy theme for the downtown waterfront area. He pointed out the council already decided on a theme in adopting the city’s mission statement, which calls Oak Harbor “Whidbey’s premier waterfront community.”

But Paggao said he is willing to look at Cohen’s ideas more closely.

Councilman Paul Brewer is less supportive of Cohen’s proposals. Even though Cohen made it clear that her ideas were just proposals, Brewer said he doesn’t like it that she came out with an entire plan without first consulting the council.

“She had a vision all by herself and presented it without any input from the council,” he said. “She’s going to learn that she needs to be inclusive of the council.”

Brewer said he also doesn’t like Cohen’s proposed theme of Oak Harbor as “America’s premier Naval Community” since the council already chose the “waterfront” theme. He points out that Cohen unilaterally decided to put the “American’s premier Naval Community” phrase on the new city hall sign.

In addition, Brewer said Cohen’s proposal is too vague and unfocused.

“We’ve been talking about it now for six years,” he said. “We just keep throwing different things out and nothing ever gets done.”

The other council members couldn’t be reached or didn’t immediately return phone calls.

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