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INSIDE: Community collective ... Island Life, A10



Inn, restaurant, elevator among Schell’s harbor ideas By JIM LARSEN Record editor Langley businessman and developer Paul Schell dropped some new ideas about the future of the Langley harbor Thursday morning at a Port of South Whidbey commissioners meeting in Freeland. His appearance may have been expected but it wasn’t on the agenda, which listed project permitting and mitigation as the main topic. It was a rocky start for Schell when he saw a reporter in the room and stated it was too soon to write about his ideas and that “premature press will kill it.” He was told that was not possible. “It’s a tentative potential site plan,” Schell said, clearly irritated. Port President Curt Gordon pointed

out it was an open public meeting, and ultimately Schell decided to sit down and air his proposal. Schell was accompanied by Eric Richmond of Flatrock Designs, a Langley architectural firm. “This is just for fun,” Richmond said of the three-story model building Schell presented. “This is the Boatyard Inn expansion.” Schell, owner of the Inn at Langley, has a partner in the Boatyard Inn. His plan is to build a three-story structure on a vacant lot next to the inn. The bottom floor would allow the inn to expand, while the top two floors would become the retirement home of Schell and his wife Pam. Schell has wanted to purchase some port-owned airspace for the building as the property line was questionable, but backed off that idea when

state regulators made any airspace purchase a time consuming, complex process. Instead, the building was slightly redesigned. After Schell presented a number of ideas, the outcome for the public would look something like this: Langley would build a viewing platform on Cascade Avenue at Second Street, overlooking the bluff. The public could walk down a short handicapped accessible trail or bridge to a glass and metal elevator which could carry eight people down to the marina area. They could walk directly to the marina or stop at a small cafe Schell hopes to build. He would purchase the Drake’s Landing building and remove its add-ons, leaving the original rustic “salt box” design. The elevator would eliminate the

Jim Larsen / The Record

Paul Schell sits behind a model of a possible Boatyard Inn expansion project as he proposes his marina improvement ideas to the Port of South Whidbey commissioners. need for the city’s long-discussed funicular from atop Cascade Avenue to the marina, and cost less, he said, while allowing visitors, marina users and workers to park uptown and still easily access the marina. Parking is the major headache when marina improvements are talked about. “This is a standard elevator,”

Schell said, estimating its cost at $140,000 compared to the funicular’s $250,000. It would cost an additional $80,000 to $100,000 for the “bridge” from Cascade Avenue to the elevator. The city already has some grant money for a funicular, SEE HARBOR, A6

Food service devours school budget, district seeks new vendor By BEN WATANABE Staff reporter Every slice of pizza or salad students on the free and reduced lunch program eat costs South Whidbey schools. Last year, the South Whidbey School District spent $218,000 more than its food service revenue on feeding students. “My concern is $218,000 every year in the hole is a lot of money,” said Jill Engstrom, board member. Enrollment in free and reduced meals may be an indicator of the tough times faced by South Whidbey families. In 2006, 61 percent of lunches were paid in full by students. In 2012, 57 percent of students received reduced or free meals from the schools. To an extent, that’s a cost the school district is willing to swallow. “It’s a misrepresentation to talk about it as a loss, because it’s a service to feed our students,” said Superintendent Jo Moccia. Rising costs have the district looking for a food service vendor to replace Chartwells. The school food specialists have served South Whidbey schools for years, and its current contract was $269,000. Board members unanimously approved a food service request for proposal at their meeting April 24. Even six years ago when most students and their families could afford full-cost meals, the district lost almost $194,000 on food service. The one constant from then to now is labor, which continues to rise in cost, district leaders said at the school board meeting.

Ben Watanabe / The Record

Russell Daly feasts on a roast beef sandwich during lunch at Langley Middle School. To his left are Maxwell Dodd and Jadan White. Across the table are Michael Maddux and Brent de Wolf. All sixth-grade students eat lunch together after a brief trial at school-wide lunches much of this school year. Food service may change next year. Each meal costs the school district almost $6, most of which is tied to labor cost, compared to the meal’s cost of about $3. In the

2011-12 school year, $254,451 was spent on food service labor, which accounted for about 82 percent of total food service costs. The total

expense of food service approached $528,000, according to school district documents. “Food service has been a losing proposition for a long time, to be honest,” said Dan Poolman, assistant superintendent. The district’s nutrition committee reported on the quality and frequency of food service use, nutrition, and physical education at the schools. For the past six years, between 30 and 40 percent of students ate school-prepared meals. A couple of students shared their approval of the food. Maverick Christensen, a junior at South Whidbey High School, professed to be a school cafeteria connoisseur. He eats school-made sandwiches almost daily at lunch. “It’s something I do every day and I see lots of kids do every day,” Christensen said. One small way the district hopes to change its food service program is by collecting outstanding charges. About $10,000 is owed to South Whidbey schools from the previous school year. Students are allowed to charge meals to their student account if they do not have money to pay for lunch. Left unchecked and unaccountable, the charges accumulated until a large bill was left unpaid. Elementary and middle school students will be limited to three charges in the future. If they are unable to pay and those charges remain unpaid, students will be given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk, or a grilled cheese sandwich and milk. Students at the high school will not receive such leniency, SEE FOOD, A6

South Whidbey Record, April 27, 2013  
South Whidbey Record, April 27, 2013  

April 27, 2013 edition of the South Whidbey Record