News

Port commissioners listen to Maxwelton Beach concerns

FREELAND — Maxwelton Beach residents are worried the Port of South Whidbey may allow overnight camping at Dave Mackie Park.

The port has been considering opening up Dave Mackie Park to overnight parking and camping, primarily for kayakers.

Dave Hoogerwerf lives near the park, and at Wednesday’s port meeting, he told commissioners it was a bad idea.

“I love people who kayak, but if overnights are allowed they won’t be the only ones taking advantage,” he said.

Hoogerwerf said his home and others nearby have been broken into on more than one occasion.

“Most folks who use the park are great, but sometimes they push the limits and spill over onto private land. And we have to clean up beer cans and fire rings,” he added.

“It’s hard enough to get the police down here as it is,” Hoogerwerf said.

The port owns

25 percent of the park;

the rest is owned by Island County.

While commissioners did not say they would drop the idea, port officials told Hoogerwerf they would consider the concerns of neighbors during any future decisions on camping or overnight parking.

The meeting this week was devoted to gathering input from the public on the port’s plan for future improvements, called the “comprehensive scheme.”

The plan sets out potential improvement projects over the next six years, through February 2013.

After it’s adopted, it will be reviewed again in three years.

Eight representatives from Whidbey Island Sea Kayakers came to talk about the lack of facilities on the South End that would make multi-day kayak trips possible.

The port’s plan specifically addresses the problem, said Commissioner Lynae Slinden. She said the plan considers improvements that would enhance facilities and opportunities for kayakers.

Port manager Ed Field said not everything in the plan may come to fruition, however.

“There are no expectations today that they will all be started and certainly not without the public being involved,” Field said.

Field noted that the plan is required by state agencies whenever the port seeks grant money.

Commissioners Slinden, Rolf Seitle and Geoff Tapert said they are committed to the maintaining and enhancing tourism and recreation facilities, as well as economic development.

Since his election in November 2005, Tapert has pushed the port to pursue economic activities that will boost the local economy and create jobs.

“We’ve been a sleepy little port for some time, and that’s going to change,” Tapert said.

One example in the comp plan is a possible kayak-rental service based on port property, such as Dave Mackie or Possession parks.

“It would provide a service to those who want to enjoy the sport while generating money for the port,” Tapert said.

While commissioners had hoped to wrap up public comment on the comprehensive scheme Wednesday, they instead extended the comment period until

June 27.

Draft copies of the plan are available at all three South End libraries, the port office in Freeland (next door to the Freeland Library) or online at www.

portofsouthwhidbey.com. South Enders can e-mail or write their comments to Field at port@emcpa.com.

The port’s next regular meeting is 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 8 at the Freeland Library.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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