Closure of Coupeville’s Front Street curbed by opposition to proposal

Coupeville leaders are no longer considering closing Front Street to traffic.

Mayor Molly Hughes announced during a teleconferenced town council meeting Tuesday, June 9 that many businesses were opposed to the closure.

Hughes blamed newspaper coverage of the issue for the failed plan.

Specifically, Hughes cited a Whidbey News-Times front page article from May 30 about the proposed closure, saying the story made it seem like the closure was “a done deal,” and several business owners were “irritated” when they read about the possible shutdown in the local newspaper before she had a chance to talk to them.

The News-Times article was based on discussions by the mayor and council at the end of May during a teleconferenced public meeting.

Hughes said the proposed closure was a big enough change that would have been better served by meeting in person to discuss it, which hasn’t been allowed due to COVID safety regulations.

“Ideally, it would have been nice for all of the businesses to gather in a public meeting and any interested residents that wanted to come and listen and give their two cents,” Hughes said during the town council’s public meeting.

Councilwoman Jackie Henderson said she hadn’t spoken with any of the business owners, but that the community members she had talked to were excited about the idea of the street closure when they heard about it.

“In all my years on the council I have never had more community members tell me how disappointed they are that we’re not going to try the closure,” Henderson said.

A letter to the editor written by Coupeville resident Claire Vorauer in the June 10 issue of the News-Times said just that.

“Just think how wonderful it would be to have restaurants and stores move out onto Front Street so shoppers and diners would feel safe to enjoy the charm of Coupeville while being able to keep safe social distancing,” Vorauer said in her letter.

“Those against the proposal cited a loss of 20 parking spots during the closure,” Vorauer added. “It seems to me folks figure out how to get into town and park during Musselfest or during the arts and crafts festival.”

When she first polled business owners, Hughes said an estimated 52 percent wanted to do the Front Street closure, but 48 percent did not.

“It just wasn’t a big enough majority for all the work that would have entailed for the town and our police officers,” Hughes said.

When asked about closing the street to one-way traffic instead of completely shutting it down, Hughes reported that 44 percent were in favor, but 56 percent were not.

Because of the outcry from some of the downtown business owners, the mayor said she decided to take the proposal completely off the table, saying that they are already dealing with enough stress while trying to safely reopen.

More in News

Volunteer burnout a problem for fire district, according to chief

Availability of firefighters has become a critical need for South Whidbey Fire/EMS… Continue reading

Contest invites kids to get crafty

Kids with a big imagination can now participate in a local art… Continue reading

Oak Harbor staff works to clarify zoning code

Island County Superior Court ruled against Oak Harbor’s low-income housing development for… Continue reading

Sailor follows her father’s path to NAS Whidbey

Past and present collided recently when Naval Linguist Abigail Burns posed in… Continue reading

School board planning equity policy

South Whidbey School Board took its first steps towards evaluating its education… Continue reading

Food program for children expands to week of meals

A South Whidbey food program providing weekend meals for children and their… Continue reading

LIHI appealing court ruling against downtown housing project

The nonprofit organization that attempted to build low-income housing in downtown Oak… Continue reading

Photo provided
                                Staff from Island Drug at Ken’s Korner are being temporarily relocated to the Oak Harbor store while efforts to secure a new South Whidbey location continue. From left to right: Store Manager and Pharmacy Technician Rachel Soto-Paulus, Pharmacy Technician Merissa Dahlman and Pharmacist Rich Russo.
Pharmacy leaving its Ken’s Korner location

After 15 years at Ken’s Korner in Clinton, Island Drug is looking… Continue reading

COVID-19 uptick deemed no cause for alarm

Thirteen additional people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Island County in… Continue reading

Most Read