Glendale purchase an opportunity too good to pass up | Guest editorial

Editor of South Whidbey Record

A single person has the power to change the future for us all. About a week ago, that person was Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson.

The Oak Harbor Republican reconsidered her earlier position and, in a surprise move, agreed to approve a partnership between the county and the Whidbey Camano Land Trust to purchase beachfront property in Glendale.

Glendale is located on South Whidbey.

Island County isn’t pitching any money into the deal, but will hold a recreation easement on the land.

The decision is not an outright victory, as the property still must be purchased, but combined with the vote of Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, the project now has a chance.

Buying public land is controversial, especially these days.

Some argue that government must slow its feverish land purchasing and focus efforts and resources on maintaining what it already owns.

The merits of that argument are clear, especially since county government has been so strapped for cash that it has begged other public agencies or organizations to take over some of its park lands.

But that doesn’t mean special opportunities should be passed over, and Glendale qualifies as a special opportunity. This tiny community was once a boomtown, a crossroad of loggers and fishermen.

The historic Glendale hotel still stands sentry over a property that served as an access — albiet privately owned — to the water.

The two properties for sale also have assets that make them especially appealing. One has a boat launch and the other a long dock.

Overwater construction isn’t cheap or easy to permit and is increasingly difficult to find.

Some argue that there are better beaches to purchase, ones not so isolated from the island’s population centers and transportation arteries.

But issues of access or overwater facilities aside, this is simply beachfront property and that alone makes it worthy of consideration. Whidbey is an island. There is only so much land. Growth won’t stop. Everyone wants a view.

In other words, every beach is precious.

This is not a new argument. Beach access is just as important now, as it was 50 years ago, and 50 years from now island residents who can’t afford the half million dollar price tag for shoreline property will look back and thank the leaders of today for their foresight.

Justin Burnett is editor for the South Whidbey Record.


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