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Derelict building could help fix wharf

An old building on North Main Street could provide the means to repair the Coupeville Wharf.

Port of Coupeville officials are hoping that the Johnson building, which is expected to be demolished sometime in 2009, will provide the materials needed to repair the roof at the town wharf.

Jim Patton, port executive director, said that the wharf’s roof was damaged during storms that blew through Central Whidbey Island in January. Volunteers offered their time to inspect the quality of the cedar siding on the Johnson building, which is owned by the town of Coupeville, and early indicators suggest the wood can be used to repair the wharf, Patton said.

The wharf’s roof was last replaced in 1997, when the facility was refurbished. Patton said he doesn’t have any paperwork available showing what kind of work was performed on the roof back then.

An estimate placed the cost at repairing the roof at $16,000, Patton said. Because the port’s reserves are basically exhausted and voters rejected a tax increase last November, officials are tapping into volunteer help with some maintenance projects.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the contractor, once chosen, will find out the best way to pull usable wood for the port’s use.

The land in the Johnson parcel may be used as a parking lot for a visitors’ center for the National Park Service if an agreement with the town can be reached.

Coupeville will advertise for demolition bids starting next Tuesday. Conard said a contractor will be chosen in three weeks.

The eventual demolition of the Johnson building comes as a brouhaha is brewing over the fate of the historic Libbey house. Conard said the Johnson building isn’t on any list of historic structures. She added the one-time gas station underwent a facelift in the 1970s and there’s very little of the original structure left. She didn’t have a date on when it was built. The town purchased the building in 2005 from Island County.

Once the wood is removed from the Johnson Building, the port would need a place to store and clean the wood until repairs can be made, Patton said.

The wharf’s roof isn’t the only area that volunteers are helping around the Port of Coupeville. Patton complimented the efforts of Russ Johnson, who is helping with the roof and the pressure washing of the causeway out to the wharf building.

Volunteers also helped spruce up the entrance to the wharf on Front Street. Ed’s Construction provided gravel and Johnson was one of the volunteers who placed decorative wooden planters on the port’s property, Patton said.

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