Park and ride lot due in Coupeville

Central Whidbey commuters will soon have a better place to park their cars and take a bus to work.

The Coupeville Town Council approved a conditional use permit that will allow construction of a new park and ride lot on South Main Street.

The new lot will be located on its current spot next to Coupe’s Village, only it will be bigger. An associated project will develop four new buildings in the area and together they will have a number of features to control stormwater runoff.

The new park and ride will have 55 spaces.

Town Planner Larry Kwarsick pointed out at last week’s council meeting some of the low impact development aspects of the lot. A large rain garden and pervious pavers will be installed in parts of the lot.

The park and ride lot will also provide access to the Rhododendron Trail and the Kettles Trail.

The Town Council voted three to one in favor of the proposal. Molly Hughes, Dianne Binder and Jim Phay voted for the permit while Ann Dannhauer voted no. Bob Clay excused himself from the process because he is a member of the Island Transit Board and worked on developing the project. He left the room and didn’t return until after the council made its decision.

Dannhauer wanted to know if alternative lots were considered.

Tim Goodman, project manager with Carletti Architects, the Mount Vernon firm designing the project, said the current lot was a good fit. It was formerly a church parking lot. He noted that Island Transit often works with churches because of the availability of their lots on weekdays.

Dannhauer also questioned why the lot across the street from the high school wasn’t considered as a possible spot.

Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose said that lot is too close to the school and isn’t large enough for the green space incorporated into the current park and ride project.

Rose said the South Main Street site was chosen because it provides a handy central Coupeville location for commuters.

Goodman added that Island Transit has a team looking for other places to install other park and ride lots.

“We’re trying to create a network of lots. This just happens to be one of those steps,” Goodman said of the Coupeville lot.

Dannhauer said she was voting against the permit because she wanted the park and ride in an existing parking lot. She also wanted all of the pavement to be pervious and wanted all of the stormwater to flow into a pond installed on site.

Rose said she doesn’t have an estimate yet on how much it will cost to develop the new park and ride. Island Transit has been busy with the partnership between the town and the builder, RSDT Inc. The estimate on the lot is the next step in the project.

The lot is located on a property Island Transit purchased from Good Shepherd Assembly of God church for $290,000. The money for the project comes from the $2.5 million Island Transit received from the state Department of Transportation.

Rose said the state money will help Island Transit develop a series of park and ride lots throughout Island County. It’s paying for a new lot in Langley across from the fairgrounds and will be used to develop lots in Freeland, Race Road and near Deception Pass, she said.

Once completed, the network of lots will shave an estimated 20 minutes off the bus ride from Oak Harbor to the Clinton ferry dock, Rose said.

Goodman said he expects construction on the Coupeville lot to begin next spring, once construction of the four buildings has started. Those new buildings are expected to house offices and medical space.

Rose said the lot will be closed to cars during the construction period. She is talking to the Coupeville school officials about a temporary alternative.

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