A balance between planning and ecological preservation | Guest Column

Sometimes far out suggestions evoke new ways to envision an issue that may divide a community or even a family unit.

With great credit to those who are trying to evolve a new vision for Eastsound, Fred Klein, Gretchen Krampf, and Jared Lovejoy, and many others – thank you!

What I am going to suggest will probably run the risk of my being “tarred and feathered” or “run out of town on a rail”; but it is a different view that may stimulate some fresh ideas.

The village of Eastsound can only expand to the west and still be a “walking village”. To preserve a walking village and still allow for moderate growth which provides for increased entrepreneurial opportunity for our young people, more jobs, more shopping opportunities for our growing tourism base, we need to expand. I know this will horrify the “no-growth group” but in the next 20 years we will need new boutiques, eateries, entertainment opportunities, land for new community services, all within the village core of Main Street and North Beach Road.

So, here comes the trouble. I am well aware that wetlands are a sacred issue to many; but then I am the guy who drained a 3 acre swamp, helped recharge the surrounding aquifer that supplies many wells in the area, found a 14,000 year old Bison fossil, gifted to our local museum, and created a beautiful lake that now hosts a vast population of wildlife from eagles, herons, osprey, to fish, ducks, snails and newts.

Yes, wetlands serve an important function in any balanced, ecologically sound ecosystem. But in Eastsound that wetland of perhaps 5 to 10 acres right in the middle of town needs a new life and a new vision. From the airport, south to the New Leaf and Outlook Inn this strip of land divides our village and prevents necessary expansion to the west.

Our “walking village” will need parking, new streets, expansion of the town infrastructure for water, sewer, street lighting, new shops, restaurants, offices, and all those things that will supply the needs of not only our residents but our visitors. We cannot deny the need for future growth, but we can plan thoughtfully so our village will survive with a healthy infrastructure and vibrant economy. Let’s look at the wetland with new eyes.

Striking a balance between sound planning and ecological preservations, I envision a new street running north from New Leaf, parallel to North Beach Road, west of the gym and Post Office, culminating at the airport. Lateral streets connecting by the parking lot behind Mia’s and also west from the Post Office creating small village blocks with provisions for parks, parking and walking paths as well as new retail entrepreneurial opportunities.

How can we accomplish these growth demands and marry this to a need to re-envision the ecological beauty of the wetland? This I leave to others.

Now, bring on the “tar and feathers”!