Greenbank: Port inaction threatens farm
July 3, 2008 · Updated 9:59 PM
As someone who was part of the citizens group that worked with our 10th District legislators to obtain the $1.5 million grant for Greenbank Farm, I am disappointed that the Port of Coupeville, by its inaction, has put the money in jeopardy.
For the funds to be released, the Port must enter into an operating contract with the farm.
The Port has been negotiating on the contract for eight months and there is still no agreement. This inaction delays construction, and by law any funds that are not spent by the end of the biennium must be re-appropriated. As Rep. Barry Sehlin has said, There is no guarantee the next Legislature will re-appropriate the funds.
Last year the legislature was impressed with the goals of the farm to create a place where small industries could get a start and promote tourism on the island. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, Rep. Barry Sehlin and Rep. Barbara Bailey worked very hard to successfully convince the legislature that Island County deserved this state support to assist in economic development. So much so that Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is convening an economic development conference this summer at the farm to bring people from other counties and experts together to see what works to create jobs in rural areas.
It will be an embarrassment to have all these people here and not have any progress on the grant. The mission of the Port should be economic development.
A majority of the commissioners have voiced support for the farm. It is time for them to take the lead in the negotiations and bring them to a close. The stakes are too high.