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Coupeville port shoots down airport study proposal

Marshall Bronson, commissioner for the Port of Coupeville, examines documents about the airport during Wednesday morning
Marshall Bronson, commissioner for the Port of Coupeville, examines documents about the airport during Wednesday morning's Port of Coupeville meeting. The three-member board rejected the possibility of conducting a feasibility study about acquiring the airport on Monroe Landing Road.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

The Port of Coupeville won't become the next owner of an airport. In fact, officials won't even study the possibility.

The three commissioners for the Port of Coupeville rejected conducting a feasibility study on whether the port should acquire the airport located on Monroe Landing Road, just inside the north boundary of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve.

Joel Eisenberg, who says he owns the airport, wants to sell the airport to a public entity and then turn around and lease the land. He wants to build hangers and expand the airport. He wanted the Port of Coupeville to conduct a study to look at the possibility of acquiring the airport.

The commissioners, Benye Weber, Marshall Bronson and Ann McDonald, were unanimous in their decision against the idea.

"I am not in agreement that the port should spend any time and energy with the feasibility study," Weber said during Wednesday's Port of Coupeville meeting.

Commissioner Bronson said the airport isn't located within the port district's boundaries and said it would be "foolish" for the port to take on any further financial obligations.

"It's really beyond the capacity of the port district," Bronson said of owning the airport. He wished Eisenberg the best of luck in operating the airport.

The possibility of the Port of Coupeville acquiring the airport sparked controversy among several residents living north of Penn Cove. During a public meeting last month, those residents argued that airport expansion is contrary to the goals of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve and would drive down the property values of neighboring homes.

Several pilots attended the meeting last month and spoke in favor of the port feasibility study. Port officials held the meeting in March to gauge public sentiment about conducting the feasibility study.

Marcia McCraw, Eisenberg's partner who also attended the meeting Wednesday, said they are exploring several different options but that it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.

Both McCraw and Eisenberg questioned officials' ability to handle the port's finances.

"I was shocked they had $8,000 to study solar power," Eisenberg said of the commissioners' decision earlier in the meeting to support a solar energy partnership that could be developed at the Greenbank Farm.

Bronson said the solar project enjoys broad support.

He suggested that Eisenberg should approach Island County officials about airport ownership.

Interestingly enough, six years ago, then-county commissioner Mike Shelton gave Eisenberg a similar piece of advice during a public meeting.

“The logical ownership for airport is a port district,” Shelton said.

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