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Port finalizes purchase of Kenmir land

A $650,000 present was purchased by the Port of South Whidbey this week for Whidbey Island residents and visitors.

The Clinton landing — also known as the Kenmir property — had been for sale by Charles and Patricia Kenmir and Conrad and Barbara Hanson for several years. Originally listed at $1.4 million, the price was dropped this summer and the Port then signed an exclusive option to purchase the property.

At the Port’s meeting Dec. 10, port commissioners decided to exercise their option to buy the property. According to Ed Field, Port manager, the timing of the purchase is a great gift for the community during the holiday season. He hopes to see the Port close on the property by the end of January.

“The Port is committed to keeping the beach access for Whidbey Island,” Field said in an interview last week.

At the request of South Whidbey residents for a beach park in Clinton since 2000, the Port intends to remove the commercial building and asphalt on the property and create a park. Field said the Port will immediately take over the leases on the building, which they will let expire in May 2004. Once the tenants have vacated, Field said he expects the building to be demolished later in 2004.

Currently in the Port’s six-year comprehensive plan, the project would include a small park with natural beach and grassy areas. The property includes seven tax parcels and 180 feet of shoreline and tidelands. Also included in the plans is a viewing platform, picnic and beach recreation areas, a small concession and restroom building, and areas for storage of bicycles and kayaks.

Clinton has not had a beachfront park since 1968. Thomas and Bertha Orr had donated the beach property to South Whidbey in 1938, but the property was then given to the Washington Toll Booth Authority, predecessor to Washington State Ferries.

The park’s plan was presented during a public meeting in July. The general features of that plan will be submitted in early 2004 for grant applications to help fund the park. Further discussion of the scope and direction of the project is still subject to public input and fine tuning, Field said. Continued discussions with Washington State Ferries will to determine if common needs can be met for the Ferries and the Port with the project.

“The basic features are what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

Estimates for the total project could cost approximately $850,000. By applying for different grants, the Port would take some of the load off taxpayers who fund the Port through property taxes.

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