Development: Parity issue is a ruse
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:09 PM
The Conservation Futures Fund was a great idea that has been rendered a lame duck. The original provision in 1993 allowed the county to collect money via a 6 cent per $1,000 assessment on real estate to purchase land for public benefit, to preserve it for the future. But this was effectively negated by a fuzzy 1997 amendment which said no money could be spent anywhere in the county until the north end achieved some sort of parity for the $2.8 million that was used to acquire Greenbank Farm property.
So, now seven years have passed and this so-called parity clause still dangles out there while the opportunity for valuable purchases just passes us by. If the U.S. government had been tied up by such a parochial amendment in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase would be an unrealized pipe dream replaced by 800,000 square miles of a French colony in the southeastern part of this country.
Ive seen no disagreement to the wisdom of acquiring land for public benefit, so why arent we? The fund just keeps growing and opportunities continue to be squandered. Does someone think there will be more choice parcels in the future or that prices will defy history and drop lower?
This parity revision is a ruse. The criteria of a valuable public resource should not be limited by its geographic location. Greenbank Farm is an asset that will continue to benefit the entire county; it should not be an obstacle to preclude the consideration of other benefiting parcels of land such as Krueger Farm in Coupeville.
The original conservation legislation aimed to retain and preserve open spaces and to maintain the historic and cultural heritage of the county it should not be held hostage to a shortsighted political revision while valuable pieces of property disappear. As the Whidbey News-Times editor observed, Inflexibility is not something most voters want to see in their elected commissioners.
(Editors note: Enell is running for Island County Commissioner, District 1, as a Democrat.)