State budget has $2.5M for island projects

Lawmakers secured funds for workforce housing, a feasibility study for a sports complex and more.

State lawmakers from the 10th Legislative District secured appropriations for Whidbey Island projects for workforce housing, a library remodel, expansion of a behavioral health stabilization center and a feasibility study for an indoor sports complex.

State Sen. Ron Muzzall (R-Oak Harbor), Rep. Dave Paul (D-Oak Harbor) and Rep. Clyde Shavers (D-Clinton) announced this week that the state’s community investment and capital budgets includes $10.4 million in appropriations for the district, including $2.5 million for projects on Whidbey Island.

An appropriation of $1.6 million was earmarked for Generations Place, a workforce housing project in Langley. Island Roots Housing, a project of Goosefoot Community Fund, is building a multi-family building with 14 two- and three-bedroom apartments. It will be located at Second Street and DeBruyn Avenue and will be the first of such rental construction in the city for 35 years.

Island Roots Housing reports that the homes will be designed for households with local jobs that make up to 60-80% of Island County median family income and with children in the South Whidbey School District. The district currently has about 70 families with insecure or substandard living situations, and only 20% of affordable rental units in Langley accommodate households of three or more, according to Goosefoot.

“Thriving communities need housing for working families to really succeed, especially on islands where appropriately buildable land is limited and building costs are so high,” said Chris Hurley, Island Roots Housing’s founding board chairperson.

Hurley added that the group is thankful for the support from the three lawmakers and their understanding that rural workers are increasingly at risk of homelessness.

South Whidbey’s Goosefoot Community Fund received a $1.1 million grant from Island County a year ago with American Rescue Plan Act funds. The money funded a feasibility study and design for this project, while Goosefoot simultaneously provided the resources to launch a new organization, Island Roots Housing.

Goosefoot purchased the two adjoining lots for the project in April 2023.

According to Rose Hughes, managing director of Island Roots Housing, the preliminary estimate for the entire project — including land acquisition, financing, design and construction — is $7.9 million. The group plans to submit building permit applications to the city by March 15 and hopefully break ground in the fall.

In addition, Paul and the other two lawmakers were able to procure $600,000 for the ongoing Langley Library remodel project. The money will fund the installation of solar panels on the building, according to Sno-Isle Libraries. When complete, the Langley library will be LEED silver certified.

The timeline for the library project is nine months to a year. The total cost is estimated at $4 million, which is funded by a combination of Sno-Isle budget dollars, state grants and contributions by the Friends of the Langley Library and Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.

“After this project is complete, our community will be able to enjoy reading nooks, an interactive children’s area, and a new meeting room to gather with your neighbors and friends,” Sno-Isle Libraries reported. “The project will include interior and exterior upgrades to improve accessibility and energy efficiency while preserving the historic nature of the building.”

In addition, Shavers reported that $200,000 was earmarked in the capital budget to study the feasibility of an indoor sports complex to expand recreational/sports opportunities in Oak Harbor. In the operating budget, $93,000 was secured to expand the number of beds in the Island County-owned Ituha Stabilization Facility in Oak Harbor.