Hollie Swanson, owner of Greenbank Wine Shop, marks her top priorities she thinks the port should focus on. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Public asked to help develop vision for port

Ideas came in abundance Tuesday from a small group of community members interested in shaping the future of the Port of Coupeville.

The port, which owns two historic properties in Central Whidbey — the Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm — held the first of two public meetings to gather public comment on its Comprehensive Scheme and Strategic Plan.

Some ideas were reminiscent of early days of the farm, suggesting the port focus on bringing music, festivals and other events back.

Others ideas, while certainly inventive, may be far-reaching. One person suggested the port work toward making the Navy’s Outlying Field Coupeville multi-use so private planes can use it to bring more tourists to the island, reducing ferry congestion.

Others suggested creating camping and RV parking at the farm or making it a business incubator.

The port, with the help of consulting firm Community Attributes Inc., has worked on updating its plan since May. It created a Citizens Advisory Council with members, or stakeholders, representing different areas of the community.

The port wants to develop beyond a manager of Greenbank Farm, said Mark Goodman, project manager for Community Attributes. He said the port wants a consensus vision from stakeholders.

Input from the public meetings will be used to help develop a draft of the comprehensive scheme.

“The port worked hard to try and get a good representation of the community,” Goodman said.

The process is about half done and Goodman said he’s hoping to have a plan to present to the port commissioners in September.

The port is legally required to have a comprehensive scheme, but not a strategic plan. The plan will help guide the port through the steps its needs to take to fulfill the scheme. An existing scheme was created in 2007 and updated in 2010.

Since then, the port has assumed management responsibilities for the farm.

During the process, Goodman said the port commissioners will be looking at other port models throughout the state. The basic function of a port is to support economic development.

There’s diversity in the type of facilities ports manage, Goodman said. Ports are an important mechanism in a community because other government entities are limited in what they can do.

“Greenbank Farm is the trickiest of the (port’s) two properties because there’s a lot of ideas and opportunities for the farm,” Goodman said.

Within the plan, the port is working to identify ways to make the farm self-sufficient as well as ways to drive more people to the farm and wharf.

Those who attended the meeting Tuesday were asked to choose four focus areas they believe the port should make priorities. Among the most selected areas were maintenance of existing facilities, land conservation and preservation, recreational opportunities/facilities and supporting existing local industries.

All of the suggestions will be ranked and streamlined.

Anyone who couldn’t make this meeting, can always submit comments online, said Chris Micholopolos, executive director for the port. A web page specifically for the comprehensive scheme was created for submitting ideas and input.

Another meeting is being planned, but a date has yet to be determined.

“I would like to get hundreds of people at the next meeting,” Micholopolos said.

• Submit ideas and comments at www.portofcoupeville.cai-engage.com

Community members were asked to write ideas for the port to pursue. Ideas ranged from creating camping space at Greenbank Farm to building up an agricultural program.

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Photo by The Everett Herald / 2016
                                Todd Morrow
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