U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Arlington, visited Whidbey Island on Tuesday to stop by the sites of two local projects for which he has earmarked nearly half a million dollars in federal funding.
The appropriations bill has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting review by the Senate. If passed, the bill will pour federal funds into a sewer upgrade at the Coupeville Wharf and the construction of Goosefoot Community Kitchen in Langley.
Larsen secured $136,000 to replace 400 feet of water and sewer piping along the causeway of the Coupeville Wharf. The wharf has long been in need of several upgrades and has received funding from the Island County Rural Economic Development Fund, the state Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation and the state capital budget.
Port of Coupeville Executive Director Chris Michalopoulos showed Larsen around the wharf Sept. 7, pointing out some of the places where the historic structure could use some attention.
Michalopoulos confirmed that if the federal monies come through in the appropriations bill, the port will be set to fund its current upgrades. Now, it’s only waiting on a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service to initiate construction on the wharf’s substructure. Unfortunately, the Fisheries Service has been unresponsive and slow to process the permit.
“There is no reason why this permit should not be awarded, but it is stuck in a pile somewhere,” Michalopoulos said.
The substructure work of replacing and reinforcing caps and piles under the wharf must be completed before the port can move on to other projects, such as seismic stabilization or the water and sewer line replacement for which Larsen has earmarked federal funds. Michalopoulos said Larsen has been helpful in following up with the Fisheries Service about the permitting process.
Larsen also paid a visit to the site of the Goosefoot Community Kitchen on the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds in Langley. Larsen earmarked $346,625 in the appropriations bill for the construction of the kitchen, which is a collaborative project between the Goosefoot Community Fund and the Port of South Whidbey.
“For public and private partnerships like this to work, we need outside help,” said Goosefoot Program Director Marian Myszkowski during the meeting with Larsen.
The community kitchen is intended to be a shared, commercial space for small food businesses. If the appropriations bill goes through, the federal funds secured by Larsen will help cover the construction costs.
Larsen said he chose to pursue funding for the projects based on several criteria. First, the projects needed to be ready to go.
“I didn’t want to support funding for projects where the money is going to be banked and then not used for a couple of years,” he said.
Larsen said he also knew these projects are supported by their respective communities and have received funding from other sources, as well.