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Farm fund-raising fizzling out

For the past year a grass roots organization in Coupeville has raised money to preserve a field, wood and wetland that is a prominent fixture on the west side of town.

Some people see the 33-acre chunk of land known as Krueger Farm, as an integral part of the historic town’s rural character. Because of that belief, volunteers have tried raising money to by parcels of Krueger Farm.

“We’re very concerned that (developing Krueger Farm) will change the character of the town,” said Dianne Deseck-Piazzon, member of Friends of Krueger Farm.

With less than two months to go before a next fund-raising deadline, they must still raise $220,000 to meet the end-of-the-year goal of $270,000.

No fund-raising events are planned, but the group is asking for donations.

Initial phases of the fund-raising went better. Friends of Krueger Farm tied up four-and-half acres of the farm property when they raised $280,000. That property will go to the town of Coupeville and Whidbey Camano Land Trust will hold a conservation easement.

In addition to property, Friends purchased an additional 12 acres, which will go to the town and will be kept as open space. That property will preserve most of the wooded area in the middle of the property.

Cecil Stuurmans, owner of Krueger Farm, which hasn’t been used for farming for many years, pointed out those parcels will protect the rural view from the highway.

“It will protect the look of Coupeville from Highway 20,” Stuurmans said.

While Friends of Krueger Farm was able to preserve part of the farm, it has also met numerous setbacks throughout the year.

The group lost a prominent member last August when Sally Hayton-Keeva died after a sudden battle with cancer.

The group also dealt with other disappointments in recent months. Last spring, the farm applied to receive $250,000 from the county’s Conservation Futures Fund. It turned out they weren’t eligible for the money because of an equity issue.

Then, in August, Friends approached the Port of Coupeville with hopes they would run a bond election to buy not only the farm’s residential pr,operty, but also a three-acre commercial property.

Citing a vague economic development plan, the port commissioners unanimously rejected the Friends’ proposal.

With the final deadline approaching, Stuurmans is developing contingency plans should Friends of Krueger Farm not meet their goal. He said he won’t do any significant planning on the property until the deadline passes. There is also a development moratorium on the farm that expires at the end of the year.

Stuurmans said he hasn’t heard anything from Friends of Krueger Farm since the port rejected the proposed bond.

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