Friends of Greenbank Farm declines continued port negotiations

In a recent vote, the board of directors of Friends of Greenbank Farm decided not to execute an agreement with the Port of Coupeville to assume the responsibilities of managing events at Greenbank Farm.

The nonprofit group said through the port’s process of updating its comprehensive plan and strategic scheme, the immediate focus is addressing deferred maintenance.

The port also wants to start an advisory committee and increase community engagement.

“Even though we have decided not to move forward with the agreement, we are not walking away from our dedication to the farm or our community,” said Patricia Robinson, executive director for the friends group. “We believe that with the increasing focus on diversity and new opportunities that allow for varied uses at the farm, a stronger community voice is needed to ensure the right balance.”

Port commissioners didn’t have much to say about the decision, just acknowledged the group no longer wanted to negotiate an agreement.

Port executive director Chris Michalopolous did not return a call requesting clarity on the situation.

Jerry Swanson, who serves on the friends group board, said the decision was made because the group wanted to maintain its autonomy from the port and have the ability to serve the community beyond the farm.

“In the spirit of the port’s desire for community involvement, Friends of Greenbank Farm feels now is the time to create an open and ongoing dialogue to ensure a bright future for Greenbank Farm,” said Elaine Meaker, friends group board president. “We feel that to restructure as a grassroots organization provides a better way to raise awareness, build resources and deepen local participation.”

“We are very excited about looking at issues from a new perspective, and we are asking the community to join us,” Meaker said. “We will announce dates for community meetings via our contact list and Facebook page.”

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Photo by The Everett Herald / 2016
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