"Hawley chastised, but Langley marina talk moves ahead"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 12:07 PM
"Port seeks project ideasA marina at Langley is one idea being considered by the Port of South Whidbey, but the commissioners want other ideas submitted by the public.The Port is updating its comprehensive plan and the most important part of that effort is prioritizing projects that might be undertaken in the future. In the past, the Port has constructed boat ramps and associated parks and helped promote business development. Anyone with an idea to offer is welcome to call Port consultant Tom Roehl at 331-7949 or email him at email@example.com.Port Commissioner Jim Hawley was figuratively taken to the woodshed by his fellow commissioners Wednesday night.But after experiencing a bit of pain, he came out smiling.Commissioners Jan Smith and Gene Sears took Hawley to task for some of his solo efforts to promote construction of a marina in Langley. Smith seemed particularly galled that Hawley wrote letters to the South Whidbey School District and City of Langley on Port letterhead without first clearing the letters with the entire Port board. It's a mistake that shouldn't have happened, Smith said.Since the last Port meeting in June, Hawley has attended both school board and city council meetings. At the former, he asked the school board to allow marina parking in the old middle school bus barn lot when school is not in session. And at the city council meeting he talked about various aspects of his marina idea, attempting to gain city backing for the effort in the form of letters of support.Everything that came out in the paper was news to me, Sears complained. He was especially annoyed that Hawley reportedly stated at the meeting that the existing boat ramp in Langley harbor should be removed to provide more parking for the marina.Hawley quickly backtracked from the boat ramp comment, pointing out that the letter he sent to the city simply stated that the boat ramp should be moved elsewhere in the same area. All I said was relocate the ramp, he told his inquisitors. Sears and Smith emphasized they would never support eliminating the boat ramp in Langley.After the criticisms, however, the commissioners started seriously discussing whether and how to proceed with the Langley marina idea. So far, it's been just that -- an idea, as both Sears and Smith emphasized.Sears said the Port does not even know if the City of Langley supports building a marina of 200 boat slips or more situated between the Nichols Brothers dock and city-owned log piling breakwater.As he has argued in the past, Sears said an informal cost estimated for the project is the first thing that needs to be done. Last month, he requested such an estimate from Hawley, who suggested Wednesday that there were too many variables to come up with an estimate.But Sears, a retired Bon Marche executive, disagreed. We have to decide if it's even possible, he said. Consultant Tom Roehl agreed that a ballpark cost estimate is possible, and Sears said he is willing to work on the task with Roehl and port accountant Chuck Edwards.Sears, backed by Smith, expressed serious doubt that a marina could be built in today's atmosphere of high costs and ever-stricter environmental regulations. I think it's 10 years too late, maybe 15, Sears said. He suggested lesser efforts in Langley harbor, such as completing the fishing pier on top of the breakwater and improving the boat ramp.Ray Honerlah, a member of the Langley City Council, was present at the meeting and wasn't so quick to agree that a marina can't be built. I think the (cost) figures are going to be scary, but you can't tell me there's not going to be any more marina development around Puget Sound, he told the Port commissioners.All agreed with Honerlah that any marina is at least 10 years in the future, but he didn't see that as a reason not to proceed. If we do nothing in 10 years we put it on the next generation, he said. As for Hawley's efforts, Honerlah supported the intent. I commend Jim, he said. Discussions needed to take place.After considerable further discussion, the consensus seemed to be that the port and city need to begin working together on the marina idea, perhaps through what Honerlah called a joint planning committee. And a professional planner should at some point be brought on board. As consultant Roehl said, We need to put it in the hands of somebody who can really give us information.But at present, nothing is official as Honerlah readily acknowledged he couldn't speak for the entire city council. He said the council is likely to discuss the marina at a planning meeting set for July 21.The port commissioners set a special meeting themselves for August 2 to discuss the marina and other projects that may be included in their updated comprehensive plan.At the end of Wednesday's meeting, Hawley was smiling broadly despite having spent some time in the woodshed. I wrote some letters and it got some discussion started, he said. I'm quite happy."