News

Long-awaited Bush Point boat launch ramp is open for business

Bush Point on-site manager Mike McCarthy and Port of South Whidbey port manager Ed Field check out the boat launch ramp after a Department of Fish and Wildlife construction crew finished getting the floats in the water on Thursday.  - Jeff VanDerford
Bush Point on-site manager Mike McCarthy and Port of South Whidbey port manager Ed Field check out the boat launch ramp after a Department of Fish and Wildlife construction crew finished getting the floats in the water on Thursday.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

FREELAND — Bush Point is good to go. At last.

Thursday morning, workers for the Department of Fish and Wildlife anchored four 3,400-pound floats firmly to existing concrete pilings next to the boat launch ramp. Most of last winter’s storm damage repair items are completed and bird caps were mounted on the top of the pilings.

The crew shored up the base of the dock, filled voids and brought the ramp back up to an elevation that makes it safer to use.

Port of South Whidbey manager Ed Field declared the ramp available for boaters.

Many couldn’t wait; with the weekend’s good weather, on-site manager Mike McCarthy reported 12 boaters launched their crafts in the clear west side waters.

Port commissioner Lynae Slinden thought the news was exciting.

“I’m very glad boaters can finally use it,” she said.

However, not everything is perfect at Bush Point. The grids forming the ramp have been straightened but more work is needed to create a smooth finish. Designed for environmental reasons, the ramp is an unusual pre-cast concrete grid providing traction for cars and boat trailers. Historically, the grid gradually settled and washed away the sand underneath.

While finishing touches are being put on the ramp, Field and McCarthy urged caution.

“Putting a boat in at anything beyond mid-tide or when the water is choppy isn’t advised,” Field said. “And watch out for tanker traffic; waves from big ships can create havoc.”

In addition, the bathroom remains closed after a back-up system failed last weekend.

“We brought a portable unit in at our expense,” Field said.

The port began working on Bush Point in 1998 as a response to the needs of boaters and fishermen for water access on the island’s west side. A variety of delays over the years — a septic versus sewer connection problem, discovery of an offshore surf smelt habitat, tidal concerns and disabled-access needs — slowed the process but the port was determined to get the ramp built.

An on-site restroom, fencing, parking lot paving, landscaping and a septic system were completed last year but winter storms washed away sand under the dock — workers have since placed steel sheet barriers on both sides as a preventive measure.

When grant funds were exhausted — totaling $1.7 million — department and the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation — the port reluctantly approved $115,000 to get the job finished but it has taken a long time due to administrative, construction and environmental holdups.

The latest work, funded by the state, totaled roughly $100,000.

Port officials were disappointed over the years as they could only monitor, not direct, the process of correcting the problem, unlike projects such as Clinton Beach park. Under the terms of a 35-year interlocal agreement, Fish and Wildlife funded and built the ramp and the port will manage and maintain it.

“We want to make sure we have full accountability from the state before any management transfer occurs,” Slinden said.

Commissioners intend to discuss the matter at their next meeting, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the Freeland Library.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 26 edition online now. Browse the archives.