Grants may lead to Serendipity Lane construction

Serendipity Lane may be one small step closer to becoming a reality.

Serendipity Lane, a walkable pathway connecting Pioneer Way and Bayshore Drive, may be one small step closer to becoming a reality.

The creation of Serendipity Lane, which is estimated to cost $200,000, is meant to create an inviting, safe and lighted walking path to and from the city’s historic downtown and waterfront parks and transit station. The city of Oak Harbor and the Oak Harbor Main Street Association are partnering on the project.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council members voted to approve a grant application for an AARP Community Challenge Grant to provide $20,000 for the project. Council previously approved $100,000 of American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds, despite the fact that the Oak Harbor Main Street association asked for double that amount.

The News-Times reported in 2021 that the decision to fund only half the project was due to some council members, including Bryan Stucky and Eric Marshall, expressing concern that Serendipity Lane would not yield any economic benefit for Oak Harbor residents and, therefore, did not meet the requirements to receive ARPA money.

The city’s grant administrator, Wendy Horn, said the AARP Community Challenge Grant funds opportunities to “make communities more livable” for all ages, but especially those over the age of 50. According to AARP’s website, the grants fund quick-action projects that help communities become more livable in the long-term by improving public spaces.

To fund the rest of the project, Horn said, the Main Street Association is seeking in-kind donations, will fundraise $40,000 and is hoping for an additional $60,000 in other grant requests. Work will be done by volunteers.

The goal is to complete Serendipity Lane by November of 2023.

Council voted unanimously to approve the grant application.