Marshall Bronson | Guest Column
The Greenbank Farm, the Coupeville Wharf and the Deception Pass Bridge are the three most iconic places on Whidbey Island. Of these three, two, the Greenbank Farm and the Coupeville Wharf, are the responsibility of the Port of Coupeville.
They are also the oldest, the barn on the farm being built in 1904 and the wharf in 1905. Each one of these treasures is a center of activities and major attractions for visitors.
Whenever visitors travel the length of Whidbey Island they will pass, nestled in the center, the Greenbank Farm. The farmstead buildings and fields are reminiscent of times long ago.
All the visitors to Coupeville, the Town of Sea Captains, are treated to the last remaining wharf from the glorious times of the Mosquito Fleets of Puget Sound. And, they can stand facing the Cove which was filled with square rigged sailing boats bringing in settlers and taking out logs and shingles.
These connections with the past have met, and are meeting with the realities of the passage of time and the aging of their parts. A major objective of the port of Coupeville has been to encourage the use of these facilities in a way that will allow maintenance and adaptation. Our current examination of the operation of both the port and the farm is to allow all parties to evaluate their programs, priorities and fiscal positions.
The Port of Coupeville, after having been in negotiation with the Greenbank Farm Management Group for more than one year has come to a point of impasse.
The current agreement which gives all rents and other forms of income on the farm to the management group, as well as a subsidy from the port of approximately $50,000, means that it costs approximately $140,000 for the management group to run the farm.
During their time of management the farm has lost its last Loganberry patch, the Sunday market and the Loganberry Festival. The farm needs to look like a farm when people pass by, fields mowed, some crops growing and activities involving 4H, Boy Scouts and other various community groups.
The Greenbank Farm needs to be financially self sustaining, with various infusions for capital expenses from the port.
And we want you, the public, the taxpayers and the tourists to be able to enjoy this great asset.
This was, and should be the goat of the port in its negotiations with whomever be the operator of the Greenbank Farm.
n Marshall Bronson is District 1 commissioner for the Port of Coupeville.