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Langley, port plan session to generate harbor ideas

Plans to improve the Langley Small Boat Harbor are chugging along as planned.

At Langley City Hall Tuesday, the Port District of South Whidbey commissioners received an update on the project from the city of Langley. Because the port -- a partner and partially funding the project -- and Langley Planning Advisory Board meetings were accidentally scheduled for the same evening on July 9, only one port commissioner attended a portion of Langley's meeting.

Project managers Lynn Hicks, city administrator and city attorney, and Jack Lynch, city planner, gave the commissioners a synopsis of the July 9 meeting.

Lynch said some of the bigger issues that stemmed from the meeting are boat fuel options, parking, boat launching and land acquisition. Hicks said the next step will be a day-long brainstorming session in early August involving the city, a port commissioner and the developer, J.A. Brennan and Associates, Seattle. From that session and the July 9 public meeting, developers will begin drawing out ideas for the second public meeting, planned for September.

"There's lots of options available," Lynch said about a suggestion from commissioner Rolf Seitle to connect the Langley Marina's dock to the city's for a potential shared access walkway. Lynch said he has felt strong support for growth between the harbor and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.

During the meeting, Harbormaster Ben Reams said one of his biggest concerns is the lack of a fuel retailer in the harbor. He said he often makes trips to Clinton to get fuel for boaters stuck in Langley without gas.

"It's a real weakness on our waterfront," Mayor Lloyd Furman admitted.

Seitle asked if a boat fuel station would have private or public ownership. Furman said he preferred it to be a private business, while Seitle later said he would like to see the city and the port consider operating it.

Ginger Miller, an owner of the Langley Marina, said returning fuel capability to the harbor has always been something she and partner Linda Moore have envisioned.

"It's been primary from the very beginning for us," said Miller.

Reams also said a marine hardware store would be greatly appreciated by visitors to the harbor.

"Every boat needs it," said Reams.

Seitle also brought up the two pieces of property adjacent to the harbor, owned by the Richardsons and the Riehls. He asked whether Langley had considered purchasing either property. Hicks explained the city has looked at those options, and currently the Richardson's property is on the market for $450,000.

Seitle recommended the city buy the two properties because they are invaluable to expansion in the area, and suggested a bond as a way to purchase it.

Hicks said she hadn't come prepared to discuss land acquisition at the meeting, but said developers will determine different alternatives for development and how the city could get the money to purchase the properties, if necessary.

Also discussed was expansion of moorage area, and at what point the city could break even on the cost of expansion. Hicks said a study to conduct a breakpoint analysis would cost more money, and Port President Lynae Slinden said she would like to know how expensive it would be.

Reams said there are about 30 dock spaces in the harbor, and none are available for year-round moorage. He said an expanded harbor would be more valuable to local boaters than the present arrangement.

"It's not much good for the locals," said Reams. "We want them here."

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