Port plan under attack

FREELAND — The much-heralded master plan for the South Whidbey Marina has come under attack from an unlikely source.

Port of South Whidbey Port Commissioner Lynae Slinden said the master plan update presented to the Langley City Council — specifically the part dealing with the uplands development — was too detailed.

“I wanted the plan to be less specific,” Slinden said at the port meeting Wednesday.

“Putting actual footprints of buildings in the first draft of a plan that won’t be realized until far into the future, or may not exist at all, can mislead residents,” she said.

The port’s earlier announcement that it had plans for two commercial buildings on public property at the Langley Marina has drawn intense interest in a town worried about the negative impacts of seaside development.

Slinden asked that the blue “stars” indicating two commercial properties at the marina be deleted from the port’s maps for the property before it trots out the new plan for a public meeting Jan. 23 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

“We need to slow down a bit and hear the city council’s reaction, as well as what local people have to say,” she added.

Some people have already seen the maps, however, as the plan was publicly released weeks ago.

Slinden said she got her copy of the new plan late on Dec. 19, shortly before port manager Ed Field made a presentation of the port’s proposal to the council. Port officials have said one of the commercial buildings on the public property could stretch four stories high, and would have condos on the top floors.

“I support the idea of marine-related commercial development there to serve folks coming by land or sea,” she said. “Building homes may in fact be a good idea but not without a great deal of thought, planning and review by those most affected,” Slinden added.” It’s too soon for those kinds of details.”

The port will take control of the city-owned marina property next January.

Port Commissioners Geoff Tapert and Rolf Seitle disagreed with Slinden’s request to change the master plan. They said that making changes so early in the draft stage would only result in confusion.

“Rolf and I feel the plan is all conceptual at this stage,” Tapert said later. “We don’t want to change the map incrementally based on one or two comments; we need to hear what the council and public have to say.”

Seitle, the newly-elected president of the port board, will meet with Mayor Paul Samuelson next week to gauge the city’s reaction to the plan.

All three port commissioners and engineering consultant Greg York from Art Anderson Associates will attend the Jan. 23 meeting in Freeland to answer questions from the public on the plan.

Tapert said he was frustrated that South End residents will give their opinions about the marina on Langley’s online chat room, but won’t show up at port meetings.

“We don’t even have a representative from the city show up anymore,” he said. “When a Langley person does show, they stay silent. I don’t get it.”

Langley resident Carl Magnusson attended this week’s port meeting, however.

“The heart of my concern is the uplands. Once they get away from the beach, what is their mandate?” Magnusson asked.

Magnusson intends to write a position paper to the port on his real concern.

“In terms of strategic planning, my view is: Society is about to go over a cliff economically or environmentally; there are roadblocks to the status quo and I want the port to factor that into their considerations,” he said.

“Society is facing serious struggles ahead and things, at least how they are now, might change drastically.”

For his part, Seitle was realistic about the port’s ultimate chances to make the master plan a reality.

“It may be just a pipe dream because the state has severe restrictions on what we can do with the property,” he said. “None of us knows at this point.”

Jeff Vanderford can be reached at 221-5300 or


The port will hold their first public meeting to answer questions on their plan for a new marina at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Freeland’s Trinity Lutheran Church.

Initially, the port has budgeted $200,000 to renovate the existing boat launch ramp, a project that’s been on the drawing board for years.

The next phase includes tearing out the old 35-slip marina, plus the docks, wharf, Phil Simon Park and the restrooms. The facilities would be replaced with a new state-of-the-art facility that could serve 80 to 100 vessels plus another 25 slips on six outlying “pods.”

Port commissioners also envision a new pier extending almost 800 feet into the harbor, sited slightly south of the existing pier and ending at a 400-foot floating dock specially designed to combat damaging waves.

Satellite piers will lead to protected marina hub modules where up to seven small boats can tie up in the harbor, with six pods in all. The port anticipates the slips to be used by a mix of permanent and transient boaters.

The recently acquired breakwater the port purchased from Bremerton will protect the entire complex from northeastern winds and waves and will be used to attract small cruise ships and whale watch tour boat operators. Tall lamps along the floating dock will light the walkway at night.

The plan’s designers, Art Anderson Associates, have made room for a sewage pump-out station, a water taxi landing and future float plane tie-up at the end of the breakwater.

Anchored outside the main marina will be six more pods, each accommodating four to six summer overflow boats for short periods.

The rebuilt marina would have space for 125 boats. By comparison, the only other major marina on Whidbey Island is in Oak Harbor, which has 424 total slips.

The uplands

Plans for the landward side of the marina master plan concept are not as clear-cut as the marina.

Driving down Wharf Road, visitors will first see a turn-around area big enough for fire trucks. On one side would be a large boat sculpture. Straight ahead will be a narrow paved road running along the bluff with up to 35 parking spots against a 10-foot retaining wall. At the south end will be a special area for boat trailer parking.

If commissioners can find private developers interested in reaching a deal, the port would like to build two structures no higher than 35 feet with 3,700 square feet of space. The buildings would straddle the end of the new pier, with one building becoming home to the port’s offices.

The other structure would house several water-based retail stores — a dive shop, kayak rental and marine supply outlet or seafood restaurant — with 10 condominiums on the top two floors.

Running along the entire waterfront will be the new Phil Simon Park, a roughly 50-by-800-foot stretch of grass and landscaped greenery with picnic tables and benches. A stout bulkhead will face the marina.

Under consideration is possibly moving the boat ramp to the far south of the property to aid access to the water from boat owners.

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