EDITORIALS Nov. 7 edition

Take the transit to Mount Vernon
Island Transit is having a bit of a problem re-establishing in the public’s consciousness its once-popular route to Mount Vernon. The service fell victim to spending cuts after voters approved I-695, which slashed vehicle license taxes, but was restored last July after other funding was acquired through a state transportation grant.
Ridership since July has been less than anticipated, but that’s probably due more to lack of awareness than lack of demand from islanders who want to travel to Mount Vernon. In addition, people who depended on the route and then had to make other plans when the route was eliminated could be skeptical about returning.
Route 11, as it is called, operates on weekdays and Saturdays. Beginning at Harbor Station in Oak Harbor, the bus stops at Deception Pass and March Point before reaching Mount Vernon to make stops at Riverside Station and Skagit Valley College.
There should be plenty of islanders who would like a free bus ride to Mount Vernon to take advantage of employment and educational opportunities available there. In addition, there are shopping and tourism opportunities along the way.
Island Transit officials could help the situation by assuring the public that future funding sources will be available to keep the route alive. Its state grant is only temporary, and long-range assurances are needed so the public can make their transportation plans knowing the bus will be there for the foreseeable future.
Island Transit is anxious to hear from the public regarding how to make the route more user-friendly. There is a meeting tonight, Nov. 7, from 6-8 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Senior Center. The bus route to Mount Vernon should be a vital link to the mainland for islanders. With the public’s assistance, that should become a reality in the near future.

Shelter depends on community
North Whidbey’s many dog and cat lovers should take heart from skateboarders, of all people. The comparatively small skateboard community years ago saw the need for a skateboard park, and on Saturday that park was dedicated with appropriate fanfare: 18,0000 square feet of rolling cement, one of the best facilities of its kind in the state.
What’s the connection between animals and skatboards? Just that there is now a dire need for a new animal shelter in Oak Harbor, and it’s going to take a concerted community effort to make it happen.
The existing animal shelter on the Seaplane Base is inadequate. On top of that, access to the shelter is now restricted due to post-Sept. 11 security restrictions. The consensus is the facility should be relocated, perhaps to city-owned property on Technical Drive. Dog lovers had proposed an off-leash area there, but the mayor last week rejected the idea, one reason being the need for an animal shelter site. Off-leash organizers were disappointed, but the issue isn’t necessarily dead. It just needs some creative thinking.
All groups involved with improving the lives of animals should get together with the city and set some goals: A modern animal shelter combined, perhaps, with an off-leash area. Set some financial goals, as well. Whatever the cost, the community has the wherewithal to come up with the money if the desire is there.
The skateboard park started out as little more than a pipe dream. Today it’s a reality. Let’s dream about a state-of-the-art animal shelter and off-leash area, then watch as the community makes it happen. Anyone who thinks it can’t be done must not know a teenager with a skateboard.

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