New boat launch at Bush Point still not finished

Though it appears local boaters are already using it, the boat launch ramp facility at Bush Point isn’t quite ready for prime time.

But after eight years of planning, design and construction, things are shaping up. Trees are planted, the restrooms installed, a traffic turnabout is ready to go, an info kiosk is up, and at the corner of Spyglass Drive and Sandpiper Road, a large, open area for trailer parking is ready.

About all that remains of Phase II is getting power to the restrooms, hooking up the sewer line, hydro-seeding grass and striping the parking lot.

Phase I, however, is a different story.

Call it the case of the “tilting pile.”

When Department of Fish and Wildlife workers were pounding the column closest to the shore last winter, it struck a submerged rock and began to “walk” away from them; their pile driver wasn’t strong enough to break through. Meanwhile, two other piles are straight, but out of alignment.

The piles are designed to anchor floats under the dock, which will allow boaters to get their vessels safely in and out of the water.

The port began working on Bush Point in 1998, after boaters and fishermen asked 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, handicap-access requirements — raised the cost and helped fuel anglers’ anger.

Local officials hope repairs will resume soon.

Port of South Whidbey manager Ed Field said contractors will be back to repair the launch and complete work within the next two weeks.

Or maybe not. Unlike the successful completion of Clinton Beach park, the port has little control over events at Bush Point. The port of South Whidbey will manage and maintain the state-built facility once it’s finished.

“Per the original agreement, the state is in charge of construction,” Field said. “Obviously, it’s easier when the port manages its own projects. All of us are looking forward to getting this up and running for our district and island boaters.”

To make sure the ramp doesn’t become another kind of mess once the project is complete, port commissioners have hired Mike McCarthy as on-site manager to take care of the crowds that are expected to use the facility.

“Mike has already come up with some neat ideas, such as a wind-direction flag pole for boaters,” Field said.

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