Editorial: Start saving for the pier

Oak Harbor made a logical decision last week when deciding to seek a transportation grant. Officials decided to use the money, if obtained, for a highway widening project rather than the long-awaited city pier.

The million dollars will come in handy for the highway, but let’s not forget about the pier. It’s been at or near the top of the city’s priority list for years, and supporters have done a good job getting the various permits needed for construction. What’s missing is the estimated $6 million to build the pier.

City officials are kidding themselves if they think all the money from the pier will come from outside sources, mainly the state and federal governments. Almost all funding requires local matching money, and the city’s pockets are virtually empty. This year’s round of handouts by the state Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation gave a fat check to the Port of South Whidbey for its Clinton beach project because the locals offered a significant match. Oak Harbor’s project, with little local money behind it, was too far down the priority list to get any state help.

The city council has to start saving money for the pier. Local dollars are like chum used in fishing. The purpose is to attract more fish, or more dollars. The more chum or dollars you have the better the fishing will be.

The council is too quick to fund passing ideas that sound good, such as the youth services director position that became a debacle, and too slow to plan ahead by saving money for priority projects. Save a million dollars for the dock and then watch the matching money flow in.

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