Town to resubmit grant for community green

Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes will modify and resubmit an application for a Rural Economic Development grant the town sought earlier this year to develop its community green.

“Because this has gotten so much attention, I wanted to let the council know what I was doing and what I was going to resubmit,” Hughes told the town council Tuesday.

Previously, Hughes submitted a grant for more than $600,000 in funding for the project, which includes installing new “green” parking spaces in the grassy area, public restrooms and lighting and paving the existing parking lot.

The project includes drainage and stormwater improvements.

Island County Commissioners declined to fund the project, and public outcry followed when discussion of the grant was tied to perceptions the town was “anti-Navy” based on comments made by council members while drafting its Environmental Impact Statement.

“In the end it was too much money for the economic development it provided,” Hughes said.

However, Hughes said she was told the town could resubmit the application and it will be considered.

“This is a project that’s really easy to break into pieces,” Hughes said. But at the same time, it has to fit into the grant criteria and phases have to be completed in a specific order.

“The most expensive part is the paving of the existing parking lot,” Hughes said. While paving would allow for the creation of a few additional parking spaces, it’s the community green parking that will provide the most parking increase.

Hughes said she is planning to submit a revised application removing the paving portion of the project, which is estimated at $329,000 of the total project because it includes stormwater and drainage engineering work.

Based on community discussions with the chamber and historic waterfront association, the priority of this project is additional parking, restrooms and lighting to increase safety and encourage employees to park at the green and not downtown.

Hughes’ revised application will propose funding three phases of the project totaling $255,000.

The original application included matching funds of $104,000 in REET money.

“I would not include a match in the resubmittal,” Hughes said. “I would hold onto this money, look for ways to increase it ASAP and build a restroom.”

The proposed application calls for three phases and funds installation of water, power and sewer to the site, a pathway and safety lights; it would make drainage improvements, pathway connections and increase parking with 40-65 new grassy parking spots and make drainage improvements to the green and do some lawn restoration.

Council members said they are was happy with the proposed solution and encouraged Hughes to move forward with resubmitting the grant.

“I think it makes total sense,” said Councilwoman Jackie Henderson.