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Coupeville selling town's benchs, trees

In Coupeville, the private purchase of a dogwood can be considered a mortgage on the town’s future and a hedge against the depletion of open space.

The Coupeville Parks & Recreation Commission has created a sort of wish list of stuff — a chunk of trail, a part of bench — that citizens can buy in order to preserve and build upon public space. The idea is that, in offering people a chance to essentially donate money for local parks, the commission can overcome a lack of funding from other sources.

According to commission member and Coupeville resident Rowena Williamson, the town itself is “strapped” when it comes to funding parks — at least to the extent that some folks would like.

“There are certain things that take priority,” Williamson said Friday, “and we are running out of open land. We are kind of behind when it comes to park acreage.”

There are a number of places in town where more parks and open spaces are needed, Williamson said. For instance, there is only one preserved wetland in town, at the foot of Pennington Hill, which provides a drainage basin from Penn Cove to as far away as Whidbey General Hospital.

“It’s really important that we have some kind of wetland so that more water will go back into our aquifer,” Williamson pointed out. “That’s one of the things that we look at to purchase.”

The commission has discussed setting up catchment ponds and parks around the wetland. Also, members say there is a need for a youth center, as well as more public beach access.

The recent town survey showed that most citizens were more interested in creating and preserving open spaces rather than using funds for more active recreation.

Williamson said the commission has created a booklet that provides a tentative list of things people can buy, which includes such items as trees, paths, benches and other features related to open space.

“We’d like to get more hedgerows in town,” Williamson said, adding that native varieties such as snowberry and wild currant are especially desirable. She and her husband Phil — a town council member — have discussed buying a couple of dogwoods to put in the park near where they live.

Williamson said when it comes to people buying park-related items, anything helps. “You can buy a foot of path, a little bit of a bench, or a whole bench,” she said. “Hopefully, maybe somebody wealthy is out there who would even donate money to buy more land in town,” she added, pointing out that according to the town’s Comprehensive Plan, Coupeville is lacking when it comes to protected open space.

If people don’t have a specific item or piece of land in mind, Williamson said they are welcome to simply donate money to the financial hopper for parks. “You can just have it put in the fund for, say, land acquisition,” she said.

Town Planner Larry Cort has been the parks commission’s adviser on the acquisition project. Williamson said anyone wishing to buy or donate should call Cort at town hall. “Basically, what you do is just say that you want so much money donated for a specific thing for the town improvement fund,” she said.

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