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Goldie Road, not Scenic Heights
We have established for some time that our greatest potential for economic development lies in seeing that the North Whidbey enterprise area (NWEA) achieves its full potential. Mayor Cohen has gone on record with the criticality of this project.
Development in the Goldie Road (NWEA) area already encompasses a number of established sucessful businesses. This is in essense the gateway to the naval air station and holds great potential for other diverse economic use. The ability to provide full city services to this area will only help existing businesses in the long run and enable the growth of future business.
The city will be receiving funding from the county for some of these expenses but needs to insure the success of this project by using any funds available.
It is hard for me to believe that the priorities in our comprehensive sewer plan have rated the Scenic Heights sewer project above the Goldie Road project. It is well established that the return on investment for a municipality takes several years for residential development. The costs of providing sewer, water, fire and police services are never entirely borne by developers and it frequently takes several years for the city to break even.
Economic development begins generating benefits to the city immediately in the form of sales tax, B&O taxes, business permits and fees, and expanded payroll. It is possible that if we had taken this action years ago we may not have had to face the possible loss of Upchurch Scientific and its 100 or so jobs.
I believe we must reopen discussions as far as our use of funding to support the Scenic Heights sewer district project. I feel it looks bad in the eyes of the public to give this project a free ride when development in that area is only likely to produce high end building lots and will do nothing to benefit low or middle income development. These are all likely view properties and are unlikely to generate homes for low income families as was implied. In the past interested parties refused to accept the responsibility for their own local improvement district and this should not be a bailout for those who want the city to foot the bill.
It was stated that this project would also provide growth south of the city. It is time for the city to reopen these discussions and attempt to get more return on investment through wise use of our limited funds to support the Goldie Road (NWEA) project first to create jobs!
Paul Brewer is a member of the Oak Harbor City Council.