Port approves updated plan

"A newly updated comprehensive plan is now in effect for the Port of South Whidbey.The plan was approved Wednesday night by commissioners Jan Smith, Gene Sears and Jim Hawley after months of work by consultant Tom Roehl and several public hearings.The plan identifies possible future projects in waterfront activities and economic development. An up-to-date plan is required by state agencies that may provide partial funding for the projects.Financially, the port appears to be in good shape. The plan states the port has about $1 million on hand in investments and annual tax revenues of some $350,000. Here are some projects some of this money may be spent on in the future:* Managing the new boat launch at Bush Point once the state Department of Fisheries builds it.* Addingfinger piers to the Clinton recreational pier after State Ferries finishes rebuilding the south side of its dock.* Making improvements to Freeland Park, including a structure to house small boats, and add a community meeting building in the area.* Improving Dave Mackie Park at Maxwelton with a small community building and infrastructure upgrades.* Adding a floating dock at the Mutiny Bay boat launch.* Working with the city of Langley for a new marina and improvements to the existing small boat harbor.* Helping acquire property near the Clinton pier for a public beach.* Pursuing development of a fishing pier at Possession Beach Waterfront Park.* Helping Friends of Freeland with its Scott Road property acquisition project, if possible.The new plan lists economic development as the port's first priority, and the plan mentions several ways for the port to get involved with economic development:* Support the knowledge industry by assisting schools in providing educational opportunities.* Support the construction industry of home builders and contractors.* Encourage technology based industry.* Promote fishing, farming and forestry.One thing the plan doesn't mention is Porter Field, the airport that stirred a public furor in the early 1990s when the port considered purchasing and upgrading the facility. However, the door is left open to airport involvement in the plan's mission statement, which mentions the enhancement of air transportation facilities.Commissioner Jan Smith said no one had asked for airport involvement during public hearings, but she said the statement has always been in the port's plan and it was decided to leave it there.The plan also includes background information on existing port facilities, demographic information, boat ownership figures, and other items of interest. To obtain a copy inquire at the port office, 331-5494. "

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