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Langley rebukes Port of South Whidbey over taller marina lights

Lanterns like these, about 3 feet tall, light the Langley Marina. Port of South Whidbey leaders want the Langley City Council to consider changing an ordinance to allow for taller lights.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Lanterns like these, about 3 feet tall, light the Langley Marina. Port of South Whidbey leaders want the Langley City Council to consider changing an ordinance to allow for taller lights.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Rebuking Port of South Whidbey President Curt Gordon’s proposal came in six words from Langley’s planning director, Jeff Arango.

“That’s completely inappropriate, to be honest,” Arango told Gordon.

At issue was a quid-pro-quo offer from the Port of South Whidbey. Gordon sought to encourage the Langley City Council to amend an ordinance and gain the ability to install taller lights on its new marina in Langley.

“We’ve got to work together to keep this thing going,” Gordon said.

Gordon also suggested the council approve a variance. Lights on the current slips are limited to 3 feet, as per a city regulation. The taller lights, Gordon and port manager Ed Field argued, were necessary for boats to come in at night.

The Port of South Whidbey leaders attended Langley’s council meeting Tuesday to continue interagency communication. Under the city’s previous leadership, port officials worked with former Mayor Larry Kwarsick to secure boat trailer parking at the school district’s bus lot on Sixth Street, a future funicular from the harbor to Cascade Avenue and possible overnight parking in Mukilteo. Of the major projects, only the Mukilteo parking lot has not been approved.

Langley remains without its top administrator. In the interim — as the city council awaits applications — Councilman Hal Seligson assumed his role as mayor pro tem. The port’s proposal and update exposed Langley’s council members as a group of landlubbers: Seligson called the cleat, “the tie-up thing.”

City council members were concerned that the timing may interfere with the port’s work on the marina this spring and summer. Trying to lube the deal by financing an electric golf cart, which will be operated by the Langley Main Street Association — not the city, was the wrong approach, council members said after Gordon and Field left.

The soonest Langley could change its rules for harbor lighting would be in April. And even then, the outcome is not guaranteed to please the port district.

The hope is that a new marina will accommodate more boat traffic, and in turn, more revenue for both the port district and the city.

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