Recommendations offered for Deception Pass State Park development

"A restaurant and a lodge in Deception Pass State Park are off the table, but there are still many options for future development and facilities in the most popular of all state parks.State parks staff members presented their recommendations for a facilities plan for the park to the seven-member Parks and Recreation Commission during a meeting in Anacortes Friday. The commission approved an amended list of alternatives and recommendations for inclusion in the next phase of the development of the Deception Pass Park Facilities Plan.I feel very strongly that we need to protect the resource, commission member Eliot Scull said. We can't rebuild the natural resources that make Deception Pass so special.The public meeting let interested citizens voice their opinions to the commission as well.We have to look not just at the next 10 or 20 years, Lake Campbell resident Bob Bell said. We need to look downstream 40 or 50 years. The staff recommendations are far from a complete plan. They only identify a series of options for the park and throw out ideas that had been tossed around. The commission will make the final decisions.The commission amended three parts of the Parks staff recommendation report. They added the option of exploring or expanding camping opportunities within the park, and, against the staff's original recommendation, the commission decided to continue to consider establishing an east-west park transit shuttle.We think this would be a bold move for the commission to establish a transit system, Resources Development Director Cleve Pinnix said. This would be a very significant step if we go through with this.The commission also wants to continue considering limiting overall access to the park to prevent overcrowding.I think we need to consider limiting access to parks, Deception Pass especially, because its resources are so precious, Scull said.Commission member Mickey Fearn was unsure about limiting access to the park.I'm living in two parts of this experience, he said. I've lived the spiritual experience where there was no one there, and I've lived the one where I couldn't even get in because it was so crowded. I want to be there, and I want to be there by myself, but I also don't want someone to be able to tell me I can't be there. The staff members based their recommendations on a melding of ideas from a series of public meetings on Whidbey Island and Skagit County, as well as nine proposals created by design consultants.During the public meetings, many Whidbey Island residents voiced concerns about the possibility of an overcrowded park, destruction of natural habitat and traffic problems.If you let the old growth get cut down our grandchildren are gonna come around and kick our gravestones, Coupeville resident Robert Merrick said.In the staff recommendation, Parks Planner Daniel Farber wrote that he was trying to balance a variety of needs in the park, including protecting the natural and cultural environment, making room for a growing number of visitors and their cars, education and safety. Here are some of the options that department staff recommend:* A bus or a tram shuttle in the park, with collection points and parking on the outskirts of the park. This would reduce vehicle traffic and parking needs in the park.* An east-west pedestrian and bicycle trail system that crosses Highway 20. This would require the park to purchase private land to connect different sections of the park.* A boat shuttle between Cornet Bay, Bowman Bay, Rosario and elsewhere.* Expanded equipment rental in the park.* Limited use of sensitive areas of the park and restoration of degraded areas of natural and cultural resources. Concentrated use in already developed areas. * Encouraged use of lightly-used areas by facility development. Dispersing visitors away from the developed areas.* Housing for park rangers dispersed throughout the park for surveillance and public contact.* A snack house or other type of concession stand in the park.* A collection of deluxe cabins and/or a collection of rustic cabins. * A shop for interpretive or education materials in the park."

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