Help save Greenbank beach

The original and correct name of the so called “Wonn Road Extension” is Greenbank Road. It is identified as a county owned Public Access, site 28, in the Existing Conditions and Site Inventory, Island County Shoreline Access Study. This study and the accompanying map lists all public accesses and public tidelands in Island County and is supposed to be available to the public at the Department of Planning and Community Development. Guess what? They can’t find it.

The original and correct name of the so called “Wonn Road Extension” is Greenbank Road. It is identified as a county owned Public Access, site 28, in the Existing Conditions and Site Inventory, Island County Shoreline Access Study. This study and the accompanying map lists all public accesses and public tidelands in Island County and is supposed to be available to the public at the Department of Planning and Community Development. Guess what? They can’t find it.

In 1972 a slick developer acquired a lot adjacent to Greenbank Road to the south and questionable title to the tidelands fronting the road. He then got a permit to put a trailer and septic system on his lot by providing false information to the county. This was illegal. The trailer and septic system were actually on the tidelands fronting his lot. Sand was bulldozed up from lower on the beach to make a pad for the trailer. A chain was slung across the historic beach access and “keep out” signs were posted. The people of Greenbank went around the chain. Our children went under it. Although informed of the fraud, the county never had the moxie to kick him off. This is documented in county files and people who watched it happen. Complaints were filed. Nothing.

Now comes Medina multi-millionaire A. Bruce Montgomery, buying up all properties bordering Greenbank Road for over a million, tax included. In 2006 he acquires the key piece: Slick’s trailer on tidelands with septic system and empty lot attached. Also the tidelands fronting Greenbank Road. Montgomery did not cause the initial encroachment but he sure intends to benefit from it. Off goes the trailer and in comes part of a new two story “beach cottage” and septic system plus additional drainfields for another house, all on tidelands.

But these tidelands are not really tidelands because they are above mean high water. They are designated tidelands by the county because the old government survey that Island County uses to determine property ownership is inaccurate and does not show the little point that goes out to where the old Greenbank wharf was. Slick had spotted this. Tideland that is never covered by water.

In Washington State, the uplands extend to mean high water and the tidelands extend from there to extreme low water.

The county has always claimed 20 feet of the 40 foot wide tidelands fronting Greenbank Road because of the shady title. However they are taxing Montgomery for the entire 40 feet. Oops!

Now Montgomery is blocking off the entire access with a stone faced, concrete-block wall. He is also claiming his encroachment on the tidelands with the cottage and drainfields are legal because of something called “the Doctrine of Laches” which, in effect, says that if you rob a bank and nobody comes after you within a certain amount of time, you get to keep the money. And lawyers wonder why people make nasty jokes about them. Well, I hope that The Doctrine of Trust, The Doctrine of Custom, and Prescriptive Right by Usage trumps “Laches.”

Mr. Montgomery seems to be a very nice man, but he is ripping the historical heart out of our community. Greenbank Road, out to the foot of the dock, is the Plymouth Rock of Greenbank. Does he know that there was and is a community of small farms and families that grew outward from the beach he is blocking off? There has been continuous public usage of Greenbank Road to and from the water since first settlement.

I filed a formal complaint and requested a stop work order on the wall over a week ago. The county says that it will take them two more weeks to do research. By that time the wall will be completed. I went up to the courthouse to see about getting an emergency injunction to stop work. You guessed it, “Ha haw, come back with a lawyer.”

I checked on the Hidden Beach access on the way home from Coupeville and it is still there, thank God.

If this makes your blood boil, talk, call and write to your county commissioners. They need to protect every “tiny area of barnacle-covered rocks” we have left.

S.O.B.! Save Our Beach!

Glenn Russell 678-5972 or janglen@isomedia.com Greenbank

More in Opinion

It’s a bad time to become lax with masks

In recent weeks, this newspaper has been contacted by readers complaining about… Continue reading

Benner
My two cents: Change on council is opportunity to move forward together

First off, let me offer my formal and public congratulations to the… Continue reading

Dave Paul
Sound Off: Our ferry system is vital — and it needs reform

We need better ferry service. As you know, we’ve seen far too… Continue reading

Harry
Rockin’ A Hard Place: Squanto didn’t live on our Rock, but we felt his generous spirit

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, it’s comforting to fall back on that… Continue reading

In our opinion: Everyone should shop local for the holidays

Shopping local is always a good idea everywhere, but this year there… Continue reading

In our opinion: Plans to rebuild Windjammer windmill are overdue

Four years ago, Oak Harbor officials’ decision to raze the windmill in… Continue reading

Letter: City leaders should consider changing form of government

Oak Harbor Councilmember Tara Hizon was right on the money when she… Continue reading

My Two Cents: Worth more than the paper it’s written on

I have experienced a wonderful time here on the island. From being… Continue reading

Soundoff: Ferry delays are a dire emergency for Whidbey residents

By Island County Commissioner Melanie Bacon Whidbey Island is the largest island… Continue reading

In our opinion: Fleming, Bobis, Salerno are right for Langley council

The best candidates for Langley City Council are relatively easy to identify,… Continue reading

Rockin’ a Hard Place: How teaching on our Rock became a culture war zone

When I was in my senior year of high school several centuries… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Hoffmire, Mischo, Stucky are right for council

Election season has exposed a rift between Oak Harbor City Council and… Continue reading