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Port fields another passenger ferry pitch

"The Port of South Whidbey fielded another pitch for help with passenger-only ferry service at its Wednesday night meeting.Last month, the port commissioners gave moral support to Roger Scott and the Whidbey Island Transportation Association and their effort to explore using hovercraft to ferry people around Puget Sound.Wednesday, a private citizen, Frank Milkowski, asked to use the port's Clinton dock for his hoped-for passenger service. I'll buy the boat, he told commissioners Gene Sears and Jim Hawley. I want to make sure there's a dock I can go to.Milkowski envisions an 18-passenger traditional monohull boat with a Chevy 350 engine that can carry people from Clinton to Seattle and other mainland points. He estimated the round-trip cost at $16 to $20. It's fairly competitive, he said, noting the time savings compared to the state ferries. The boat would cost Milkowski about $95,000 and he'd have to hire a qualified captain.Sears and Hawley both encouraged Milkowski to proceed. We'll help as much as possible, Sears said. Give us something in writing -- not 15 pages. Commissioner Jan Smith was absent from the meeting.Hawley again took up the subject of a proposed marina in Langley to possibly be built jointly by the port and city. He clarified remarks last month that suggested he was considering a 300 slip marina. In fact, he said, a 200 slip marina is the maximum possible at the location, plus the existing transient moorage slips.I never considered 300 slips, Hawley said.Sears noted that 300 slips was referred to in the minutes of the meeting. They're pretty accurate, he said.The final answer is that Hawley is considering 200 slips costing an estimated $5.5 million. He and port accountant Chuck Edwards are working on more detailed cost estimates that will be reported at next month's meeting.Tom Roehl, port consultant, gave a short report on the Bush Point boat launch project to be built by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife on state property managed by the port. He said a hydrographic survey of vegetation was done this week. They're getting ready for the permitting process; they're actually moving, he said. I just hope they don't get out-run by new regulations. Water-related projects are getting harder to build due to the listing of some salmon species as threatened or endangered."

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