Opinion

Future plans made easier

Oak Harbor’s future is looking better all the time with the help of an active city planning department that is going out of its way to make participation easier for the city’s busy citizens.

Although physical presence is appreciated, it’s no longer necessary to attend a public meeting to have one’s views on proper growth considered. Much of the necessary information along with comment opportunities can be found at the city’s Web site at www.oakharbor.org.

Even more communication opportunities are available at Internet blog sites set up by the city’s enterprising young planners. Those addresses are www.cohsubdivisions.blogspot.com and www.cohcomplan08.blogspot.com.

Not everyone has Internet access from their home, but all you have to do to participate is stop by the friendly Oak Harbor Library where computers are available for public use.

The city’s two lead blogmasters, Cac Kamak and Rob Voigt, have done an outstanding job making the blogs understandable to the average citizen and packing the blogs about information regarding subdivisions, streets, parks, trails, lot sizes, and much more.

Right now city officials are discussing the Subdivision Code and how to make subdivisions better, more livable, and a superior fit for the community. One key idea is to not only require trails, but to make sure they link together so we’re not stuck with a bunch of isolated mini-trails. The whole idea of trails is to give people another way around town than by car, and to give exercisers access to many parts of the city.

Planning a city is a complicated task with the myriad regulations dealing with commercial and residential growth. But that task is made much easier when city employees go out of their way to make information available to the people in a thorough and understandable manner.

Overall, the city appears to be in good hands with the present planning staff under the direction of City Development Services Director Steve Powers. Recent commercial projects have been well planned and quite attractive. Walgreen’s at the corner of Highway 20 and Pioneer Way is a good example. Sure, it looks like a Walgreen’s, but the associated greenery and plentiful benches make the city a much more attractive and user-friendly place. Let’s hope something even nicer materializes across the street when the former Ford dealership property is developed.

The planners’ eyes are now turned to future residential development. Help them out by visiting the above-mentioned Internet site and taking part in the process. Meanwhile, don’t forget reality: Real meetings with real people still take place, and it’s important to participate there, too. On Tuesday, May 27, the Planning Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. The agenda includes updating the Subdivision Code. Stop by in person and offer some ideas.

Election filing time approaches

Island County is a few candidates short of a load going into the primary election August 19.

The filing period officially begins Friday, May 16, when the Secretary of State’s Office will begin accepting filings by mail. For those filing in person, filing week of June 2 through June 6 is almost upon us, so anyone thinking of running has to make up his or her mind quickly.

This will be an exciting year to run as the new, Supreme Court-approved Top Two primary gets its first test. The top two primary vote-getters in August advance to the general election in November regardless of party, which opens up a whole new can of election worms.

So far, the race for Island County Commissioner Position 1 is adequately competitive. Appointed incumbent Phil Bakke, a Republican, has a Democratic challenger in Helen Price-Johnson and a non-affiliated challenger in Curt Gordon.

Position 2 isn’t quite so interesting. Incumbent Republican Commissioner Mac McDowell is facing only Democrat Angie Homola. Another Republican and Democrat, or even an independent or two, would be a welcome addition to the race.

Appointed Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider, a Republican, has no opponent at this juncture. Somebody should step up and make sure she doesn’t get a four-year free ride in office.

The more competition the better in the primary. If your ambitions are higher, run for State Senate or State House where we also have interesting possibilities this year. Elections are fun, but only if people are willing to run. Check with the Auditor’s Office for details, 679-7366.

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