Opinion

EDITORIAL: Farm accord benefits all

The Port of Coupeville and Greenbank Farm Management Group are to be commended for reaching a lease and management agreement after eight long months of negotiations.

The accord, to be formally inked within days, allows the management group to manage the Greenbank Farm properties, under contract with the Port,which owns the property.

A philosophical stumbling block was overcome when the Port commissioners realized that they do not need to make money on the farm, as was hoped when they entered the purchase agreement seven years ago. No, farm revenue will not make the farm acquisition payments, at least for the 10-year duration of the new agreement. But it is not the job of a public entity such as the Port to make money -- the Port exists as a means for the public to encourage private business development. Payoff comes in the creation of new business, new jobs, more tax revenues, and more tourism, all of which will pay dividends in years to come. A private entity could not wait that long for a return on its investment, but a public entity can.

And then there are the priceless intangibles of having the Greenbank Farm under public ownership and protection, and not open to rampant private development. You can’t put a price tag on what the Greenbank Farm means to the Whidbey Island community, but it’s worth far more than what the taxpayers in the Port district are paying for the farm.

With the lease agreement in hand, the management group can now embark on major renovation projects made possible by $1.5 million in state economic development money approved by the Legislature last year. For a while that money was threatened by the lack of a lease agreement, but now it’s in the bag. The farm buildings will be updated, upgraded, and generally made hospitable to a number of new businesses. The lease agreement will make the farm bloom, and for that we owe all parties involved a big thank you.

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