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Schools may help Langley Marina with parking problem

Curt Gordon, a Port of South Whidbey commissioner, discusses a proposal to use the disused school bus lot near Langley Middle School as boat trailer parking as Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick and Board Member Damian Greene listen.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Curt Gordon, a Port of South Whidbey commissioner, discusses a proposal to use the disused school bus lot near Langley Middle School as boat trailer parking as Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick and Board Member Damian Greene listen.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Langley Marina users may soon have convenient parking just up the hill.

Members of the South Whidbey School Board agreed to further explore a joint proposal from Langley’s mayor and a Port of South Whidbey commissioner last week.

Mayor Larry Kwarsick and Port Commissioner Curt Gordon requested the use of the school district’s old bus barn at Langley Middle School, which would provide enough space for boat trailers to park while moored in Langley. The school board may vote as soon as May 23, and the city and port need to file a grant request by early June.

“One of the real problems with the Langley Marina is limited parking,” Kwarsick said. “We need to get vehicles in and out of there.”

The city and the port district have a plan to expand the Langley Marina. Sufficient parking space for trucks and boat trailers was a concern, however, and the city and the port want to improve parking options around the downtown commercial core. The aim of both ventures is to increase commerce through tourism.

“Every little thing we can do to get some interest in our little community, we all benefit,” Kwarsick said.

As an incentive, the preliminary plan is for Langley and the Port of South Whidbey to pay for surface water treatment, landscaping and possibly paving the lot. While the port and the city have a long-delayed plan to use the parking lot at Christian & Missionary Alliance, across the street from the bus “barn” (a large parking lot), boat trailers need more space to maneuver, which the district’s property has. Another potential conflict with the church parking lot is it could not be used Sundays when services are offered, defeating the purpose of increasing weekend boat traffic.

The South Whidbey School District is facing budget cuts, and District Superintendent Jo Moccia made it clear that school funds could not be spent on this interlocal government agreement.

“For the school district, it certainly can’t cost anything, and it must also bring benefit,” Moccia said.

“We can’t put out money that isn’t to our purpose,” she added.

One school board member questioned the possibility and need of increased security at the district parking lot. With more car traffic, the likelihood of vandalism could rise, said Board Member Fred O’Neal, who asked if new lighting or security cameras would be installed. Board Chairman Steve Scoles worried about holdovers from the weekend still parked in the bus barn when the school district needed to use the lot.

“My concern is overuse and come Monday morning as the buses pull up, the lot’s full of trailers or RVs,” Scoles said.

Those details, Kwarsick said, would be discussed after the three parties (city, port district and school district) agree to proceed.

“We need to make an agreement that we’re all going to work on this, and then I can take this back to my commission as well,” Gordon said.

The procedure of the interlocal government plan to use the school parking lot was explained clearly by the school district business director, Dan Poolman. The school board did not approve the deal, as the meeting was a workshop and not a business meeting where voting may occur.

“It’s an agreement to proceed to look at an agreement,” Poolman said.

One of the only changes in the memorandum of understanding was a termination clause. Moccia noted the document needed to ensure any party may terminate the agreement with proper notice.

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