“Group recommends Port of Coupeville should consider selling Greenbank Farm” was the attention-grabbing, but misleading headline for the front page Jan. 4 issue of the Whidbey News-Times.
A group of eight citizens appointed by the Port of Coupeville to consider future options for the Greenbank Farm actually recommended the following:
1. That the port should not extend the expiring contract arrangements used with the current Greenbank Farm Management Group with eight votes in agreement.
2. That the port, as it now functions, should not assume the management of the Greenbank Farm without the assistance of a management group with seven in agreement and one disagreeing.
3. That the port should solicit a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the selection of future management of Greenbank Farm.
Our report contains specific recommendations regarding a contractual and working relationship with eight votes in agreement.
The recommendation that the port not extend the existing management contract was the most important.
It was not even mentioned in the news article.
While the article focused on financial transparency issues, the basis for the recommendations had to do with the port’s decisions, or failure to make decisions, regarding the farm’s operations.
The executive planning group’s report made it clear that selling the farm was an option “not explored,” and hardly discussed. A vote was only taken, “so that the commissioners understand that we find that the management and operations of Greenbank Farm need to be improved.”
The group did not recommend that the port “pursue” a sale of the farm.
The group stated, “We believe the port needs to make this project successful or they might as well consider selling.”
Exploring the conditional sale of the farm with restrictive covenants was only something to be considered if the port was unable to “make the project successful.”
As chairperson of the executive planning group, and after spending six months researching the issue with others, I believe the project can be successful.
But, it will take more than a new arrangement with a management group.
The port commissioners will need to change the way they conduct business — and it will take an involved public to make sure they do.
Our report is supposed to be on the port’s website at www.portofcoupeville.org.