Editor’s note: According to County Council Member Rick Hughes, the community garden was inactive for a period of time and grass had overgrown the space. Public works cut the grass down, planted new seed, took the deer fence down and reverted the area back to public access. Hughes said the area cannot be a parking lot, but he hopes a decision on the property’s future will be decided in the next six months. The area can be a bypass, a walking pass, a road or a park and ride because the land was purchased by the public works department with road funding.
Some number of months ago, a public path was put in the community garden space, linking North Beach Road and Prune Alley, complete with signage and a raised bed mulch pathway. It simply arrived one day, though it did seem very official with the county signage claiming public path. The need for this path was negotiable at best, since there are already existing foot paths connecting these roadways.
About a month ago that I noticed a seemingly innocuous green sign talking about some kind of development in that area. I put it in the back of my mind, and it wasn’t until I saw the fences ripped out and the manhole appear overnight that I finally smelled the rat. This easement was put in with the intended appearance of benefitting the public and is now being blow up into a full fledge parking lot with the construction largely happening after hours.
Local residents explained to me that their gardens were unceremoniously destroyed without letting the gardeners know they had a week to vacate. It seems the citizenry of Eastsound takes a backseat to big money and development again. And this is all been carried out behind our backs and in front of our face at the same time, thinking we are all too dumb or asleep to see what was going on.
That garden space provides food for families in need, and there are many senior citizens over at the Long House who wait all winter for a chance to feel useful again and put their hands in the soil and be outdoors with a chance to garden. This action of greed takes that from them, and leaves them forlornly staring out the window at a parking lot that used to be a beautiful garden. Those “who know what’s best” blithely did this without properly consulting the public through the newspaper and well-advertised public meetings. This kind of devil may care attitude towards those at the bottom of the ladder is inexcusable and shameful and makes me wonder who’s really steering this ship.
The community garden space is the last piece of Eastsound’s legacy as a farming community. Orcas hasn’t always been an enclave for the well-to-do, and our community garden is part of our spirit. How dare you take that away from us?
I’ll certainly be voting differently this year if this isn’t brought into a public forum and discussed. Let’s come together and protect this valuable community asset while there is still time. I am only one voice. The rest is up to the fourth estate. Let the ravel be roused.