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Clinton beach backers embark on petition drive

"A petition now in the works could be the first step toward the community of Clinton's desire to have its own saltwater beach.About 40 people attended the Nov . 27 meeting sponsored by the Clinton Community Forum. The subject, again, was the much-talked-about Kenmir property immediately north of the ferry dock.The property, including the old Admiral's Mistress restaurant building, is on the market. Those at the meeting said the asking price is $1.4 million.Lee McFarland, Island County Parks director, said the assessed price of the Kenmir property is only $425,000. That's a real wide gap, he said. It was pointed out that the area has parking and septic problems, but the fact it is zoned commercial could add to its value.McFarland also pointed out, to the surprise of many, that the adjoining tidelands are owned by Washington State Ferries, not the Department of Natural Resources. Even Patrick Normile, a retired ferry captain, was unaware of that fact. He doubted that even the ferry system knows it controls the tidelands in front of the Kenmir property.Normile, chairman of the county-appointed Clinton Subarea Planning Committee, said that group supports the acquisition of the Kenmir property for a public beach. Clinton once had beach access but it was taken over by the state for the ferry dock. The last remnants of that access disappeared with the latest dock expansion that took out a staircase to the beach. Many Clinton residents feel the state should help restore beach access for the community.Jan Smith, the Port of South Whidbey commissioner who represents the Clinton area, said acquisition of the Kenmir property will be among the possible projects listed in the port's comprehensive plan update which is now in progress. It's a really viable project for the port, she said. While the port doesn't develop parks, it does own the recreational pier and floating dock that is accessed through the Kenmir property. The port also sees more public parking as a possibility at the site. That would be a benefit to the economic growth in the local community, Smith said.The Kenmir property includes a sandy beach. Normile, expressing a long-range dream, said the public could eventually acquire several other lots to the north which would open up a mile of shoreline to the public.Nobody at the meeting offered any acquisition money, but all supported the idea of acquiring the Kenmir property. Island County Parks and the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District offered moral support. County Planner Jeff Tate noted that Clinton is expected to be a growth area in the county, and the planning process can help supply the tools to achieve the goal of acquiring the property.Lynae Slinden, a founder of the Clinton Community Forum, said she will write a petition to circulate in the area. If the public indicates strong support for the project then the signatures will be presented to the Port and other public agencies. "

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