Editorial: Our shorelines need protection

It’s ironic that while Oak Harbor and Island County are revisiting their Shoreline Management Master Program to assure our shorelines aren’t further ruined, the city is embarking on a sewer plant siting process that includes two potential locations smack dab in the middle of the shoreline.

It won’t be easy for the city council to select a site for the new $70 million sewer plant, but it should be easy to reject the present plant site within the boundaries of Windjammer Park. Still, it’s among four finalists recommended by a consultant.

Another quick rejection should be made of the Oak Harbor Marina site, on land that would be leased from the Navy. Again, it’s on the water, it’s next to a popular recreational area, and it would cause a huge public outcry if pursued.

The third site is one few could have predicted, on the Fakkema Farm on the west side of the island. This could have been a joke on our environmentalist Island County commissioner, Angie Homola, who lives nearby, but it’s a bad joke. The land isn’t even within the city limits and it’s likely to stay that way.

The fourth site may be the more plausible, at the old city shop area on the end of City Beach Street. It’s not an upscale part of town, but it’s a short downhill run from there to Oak Bay for a sewer pipe. Land would have to be purchased and nearby residents persuaded, but it deserves a closer look than the other proposed sites. Newer sewer plants in such cities Edmonds and Ferndale are touted in Taj Mahal terms. Perhaps such a plant would improve the neighborhood.

Our shorelines along with our fresh water are our most precious resource. The public meeting on the four possible sewer plant sites will be held Tuesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. at the Whidbey Campus of Skagit Valley College in Oak Harbor.

Meanwhile, Island County is conducting its own critical meetings regarding the future of our shorelines. Building heights, setbacks, development densities, protected areas, public access and much more could come into play. The North Whidbey Community Shoreline Visioning meeting will be held Monday, March 21, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. If you’re in hurry to comment there’s a meeting Tuesday, March 15, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at in Clinton at the Progressive Club.

Do something to help protect and improve our shorelines by attending these and future meetings to be announced.


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