Make Big Rock a public place | Opinion

The town of Coupeville, normally so protective of its heritage, has shown a discouraging disinterest in protecting its oldest asset, the huge glacial erratic known today as “Big Rock” and in past years as “The Rock of Ages.”

It’s probably the biggest rock on the island and it’s one of the biggest in the entire Northwest. Previous generations of Coupevillians took advantage of the rugged rock on the prairie, building steps to the top and using it for picnics and a fine perch from which to view the spectacular scenery that surrounds it.

The town missed its big chance to buy the land in front of the rock several years ago when it allowed construction of a large commercial building that now almost entirely hides the rock from people driving by on South Main Street. But still, there are possibilities.

The adjoining Big Rock Apartments are for sale, and the rock goes with them. But perhaps the land on which the rock sits, along with the century-old house that shares the plot, could be segregated and sold separately. The house could be turned into an adjunct to the Historical Society Museum, focusing on the geology of Whidbey Island while serving as a gateway to Big Rock itself. There would be room for people to touch the rock and take pictures while marveling at its size. Could there be another staircase to the top? It’s probably cost and safety prohibitive in this modern age, but we can dream.

The city has approximately $75,000 in cash on hand collected from park impact fees. The mayor has the money earmarked in her mind for other uses, but at least part of it might be used as seed money to inspire a “Save Big Rock” fundraising campaign.

Many older Coupeville residents have fond memories of the Rock of Ages of their youth, and preserving it now would be wise. The rock has been in good hands in recent years, but there is nothing to stop a new owner from turning it into a huge pile of valuable gravel if he or she should desire. Big Rock has alway been an intriguing part of Coupeville; it’s time to place it in public ownership and make it accessible for future generations to enjoy.


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