Community Weighs in on Port of South Whidbey’s Comprehensive Scheme

\By Celeste Erickson, November 8, 2013, South Whidbey Record

Ideas were flowing from community members at the Port of South Whidbey’s open house Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The open house was held to discuss the district’s draft comprehensive scheme for 2013-19. Port staff sought feedback from the community prior to the final submittal in December.

About 15 people attended along with representatives from Makers, a planning and urban design firm, who drafted the document.

Comments can be submitted to the port until Nov. 15.

The scheme is a long-term planning document meant to guide future projects and policies.

The draft outlined five goals: support business growth, enhance transportation opportunities, maintain and protect waterfront public access and recreational opportunities, improve the port’s financial performance and enhance community relations and partnerships.

Port Finance Manager Angi Mozer said she was pleased with the draft comprehensive scheme as it is more focused on overall goals than the previous plan.

Mike McVay, of Baby Island and president of the Island Citizens for Beach Access group, attended the event to submit a few of his thoughts to the port.

McVay wants more signs on public access beaches. Some are fantastic fishing areas, he said, but they are not properly identified.

One of the best is at Robinson’s Beach Park, but there are no signs to inform visitors of the public area, he said.

Signs are one of the most important parts of beach use and not that expensive, he said.

An increase in boat-launch maintenance at Possession Beach, Dave Mackie Park, Freeland Park and Robinson Beach is something McVay would like to see from the port in the future as well.

Langley resident Ed Halloran said he wants more cooperation from the port with tourists and recreational groups. Langley is an ideal place for boaters to stop for lunch; the city is a tourist destination, he said.

“People boating from the San Juans to Seattle need to stop,” he said. “It’s one heck of a haul, I’ve done it before.”

Halloran said he heard many good ideas during the open house, including drop-off Smart Cars for transportation, and wants to see more out-of-the-box thinking like that. One great example is the golf cart shuttle at the South Whidbey Harbor.

Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy also attended the open house to suggest a few ideas of his own for the current docking system. He proposed adding finger piers to help kayakers get into the water more easily, and mooring buoys that can accommodate multiple boats. The boats are tied in two places and attached to a cable between buoys to prevent them from hitting.

“I’m supportive of what the port is doing,” he said.

Port Commissioner Dennis Gregoire echoed many of those ideas. He would like to see more collaboration of districts as it relates to boat ramps and public access. He said he also would like to improve the function of many boat ramps to serve the local community and tourism.

The draft scheme is a good base for discussions, he said.

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