Editorial: Small town leads the way

A lot of people love the town in which they live, but when it comes to putting their own money behind that love it’s another thing. Projects languish for years because there’s no money to get them off the ground. But in the town of Coupeville, it’s different.

Some skeptics no doubt said it couldn’t be done late last year when Mayor Nancy Conard announced a $400,000 fundraising campaign. The aim was to purchase for the public two vacant lots on Front Street overlooking Penn Cove. A steakhouse had been proposed for the site, but following considerable controversy, owner John Rodriguey graciously offered to sell the property to the public. No doubt he could have made a lot more money with a steakhouse.

The Pickard and Whelan families started the fundraising ball rolling with contributions of $100,000 each while many others contributed smaller amounts. As of early January, the community was within a paltry $10,000 of its goal and there appeared to be no doubt it would be achieved.

That’s an amazing accomplishment for a town of fewer than 2,000 people. On a per-person basis, it works out to a donation of more than $200 from each inhabitant.

Coupeville is particularly dear to its residents’ hearts, and no larger city can hope to compete. Its small size, historic setting, and a population mix of old families and new residents all determined to preserve the town’s finest qualities makes its community spirit second to none.

While we can’t all hope to match the generosity of Coupeville residents, they provide a model of how to get things done: Do it yourself, through donations and volunteer labor. It’s a lot faster and more satisfying than waiting for others to help you out.

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