The pillaging of Greenbank Farm

I’ve been following the Port of Coupeville’s activity with the Greenbank Farm for a while, but recently, specifically July 8, I turned my attention fully to the problem.

On July 8 two of the three commissioners seemingly arbitrarily (with no prior knowledge from anyone in the audience or the one dissenting commissioner) voted to cease the ongoing (more than 9 months) talks with the Greenbank Farm Management Group.

There is much more about this disturbing event here and here.

This has led to GFMG gracefully stepping aside (please take the time to read this link: Greenbank-Farm-Management-Group) so that the tenants of the Farm might have some chance of surviving this pillaging by the two outgoing Port Commissioners, who seem to be in their positions solely to dismantle this property and pillage the asset.

These Commissioners believe they are above the law or safe from repercussions because they have spread the word that it is the Farm that is the financial drain on taxpayers and the Wharf, preventing the Wharf from getting the capital it needs to be repaired and stay safe. They seem to believe that supporting BOTH sites and the businesses that thrive there is a conflict, creating an “us v them” distraction while they work out their hidden agenda. 

Well, not surprisingly facts say differently. I am a “numbers” gal. I always have been. I probably always will be. Numbers, dollars, money has been my career for decades prior to and including farming. Numbers and I are really comfortable with each other. So when I heard that Greenbank Farm had about $91k in expenses related to their leaseholders in 2014 it didn’t surprise me. When I saw the income during the same time was $92k I failed to understand this huge financial drain the Port had been crying foul over, that represents $1000 of INCOME.

Then I looked at the same numbers for the same period for the Wharf. $169k in expense… $31,620 in income. Hmmmm… Okay, you don’t need to be a CPA to figure this one out.

So maybe it’s in Leasehold Improvements/Maintenance the numbers are getting skewed… right? Nope, $19k spent at the Farm… $63k at the Wharf!

Wow. So, what covered these costs? Well, $335k came to the Port from a sale of part of the Farm (conservation easement) – so, $63k + $19k +$169k + $91k = $342k, is almost completely covered by that sale… not accounting for the rental incomes or the $365k tax levy that was paid for by taxpayers (to be fair about $40k of that came from taxpayers in the city of Coupeville – surrounding the Wharf).  Hmmm… Something STINKS here!

Maybe they mean the cost of the mortgage? After all, since 1997 the Port has invested almost $2.6 mil into the farm (including purchase price, interest, improvements, water/septic and management fees). Of course GFMG has invested more than $2.7 (including fundraising, grants and improvements). Oh side note… for the $2.7 million, GFMG has nothing… for the $2.6 million the Port owns this incredible asset… which Commissioners Bronson and Carr are determined to pillage.

This isn’t about money. It isn’t because the Farm is a drain (conversely it has been covering more than it’s weight, especially once community funds are considered).

Reading some of the false information that have put out… they have already been trying to color the incoming Commissioner John Mishasek and convince him that they are subsidizing wealthy customers of art galleries (businesses that not only employ neighbors, they provide income for hundreds of local artists and artisans – so needless to say – they are just pushing their agenda and not speaking with integrity).

(These emails between John Mishasek and David Day, the ED of the Port of Coupeville, were dropped at my booth at market last weekend – I was not the one who requested them under the Freedom of Information Act, so I am not aware if there are more – it just talks clearly about the WSU deal and the spread of the misinformation about subsidizing our artists/galleries: CoupevillePortCommisionEmails)

They arrogantly have sold their bill of goods that the businesses at the farm shouldn’t be there, and that they are paying below industry rents. The fact is they are not only NOT being subsidized, but are actually paying HIGHER rent than comparable properties… up to 50% higher! AND they are carrying their weight.

I’m NOT saying just because the Wharf doesn’t carry their own weight with their rent alone that they should be screwed by these same shrewd Commissioners. This isn’t us:them. I believe that is not what the Port of Coupeville was developed for. It wasn’t to profit itself… as a matter of fact here is what they say they are about: Purpose

I AM saying that both properties are valuable and should be protected, and the Port should be held accountable for the for the actionable activity of Bronson and Carr, including the obvious collusion prior to their July 8 vote and their negligence in taking over the Farm with no management, no communication and no responsibility to the tenants or, more importantly, the taxpayers that will have to bail them out of their arrogant behavior.

Please show up for the Port’s meeting. PLEASE let them know how off base they are and that they are not immune from being held responsible to their constituents.

Please help protect this asset from their pillaging.

August 12, 10am. Click for details.

Do you want to know why, as a farmer, I care so much? THIS is worth protecting!

 

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About Chief Milkmaid

A former executive, now goatmilker and cheesemaker, I am the Chief Milkmaid of the Little Brown Farm.
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5 Responses to The pillaging of Greenbank Farm

  1. Actually, I don’t like this at all. This is beyond despicable. Unfortunately I will be out of town for the meeting, but I have signed my letter about my disapproval of these actions. I am so, SO sad that the GFMG felt they had no choice but to abdicate their position. This affects me and my ability to make an income personally, and I am heartsick.

  2. Sharon Spencer says:

    EXCELLENT !!!

  3. R.B. says:

    Well written article. Thank you for articulating what so many people are thinking and saying. Great job.

  4. Janet Burchfield says:

    Brilliant and timely!

  5. Ariel says:

    I hope you submitted this to the local papers as a “letter to the editor” or something – this is such a better explanation of what’s going on and why it makes no sense than anything I had heard previously. Keep fighting!

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