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Developers push Port on harbor

Now that Langley and the Port of South Whidbey have agreed to work together on developing the Langley Boat Harbor, private developers are hoping they will take another step towards making it become a reality.

Paul Schell, an owner of the Inn at Langley and the Boatyard Inn, and Tony Puma, a co-owner of the Boatyard Inn, came to the Port of South Whidbey’s meeting Wednesday to show their support for the project. Currently in the process of buying the Langley Marina building and property from previous owners Linda Moore and Ginger Miller, they said the success of their proposed development partially depends on the harbor’s future.

Plans for the property include the demolition of the Langley Marina building and the construction of two smaller buildings, set back farther from the beach, according to Schell. One building would be developed as part of the Boatyard Inn, and the other would be developed as a bait shop, marine hardware store, takeout deli and private residence above.

Langley’s sheltered moorage is a rare commodity, Schell and Puma told the port’s three commissioners. They asked the commissioners that they make the Langley Boat Harbor’s master plan happen, and work with private property owners to re-develop the harbor.

“Langley has the one unique quality,” Puma said, “that you could do something like this.”

Currently the port is implementing part of the master plan that includes improvements to the existing boat ramp and Phil Simon Park, according to Ed Field, manager for the port. Still in the design phases for those projects, Field said the port has every intention of following through with the subsequent improvements in the master plan.

Field said the next phase includes an interim dock which would include seasonal transient moorage, a fueling station and a float plane float.

During the meeting, Schell said the harbor could eventually give numerous benefits to South Whidbey. New moorage would enhance the commercial maritime industry by expanding Nichols Brothers’ ability to keep its business on Whidbey Island, and allow new or existing boat-oriented businesses on South Whidbey to utilize the harbor.

He said island residents would benefit by having the opportunity to moor their boats on South Whidbey, and be able to purchase waterside gasoline without traveling to Everett or Oak Harbor to refuel. The float plane service could enable residents to access Seattle-area destinations, including medical facilities, sporting events, business opportunities or as a faster way to get to SeaTac airport.

Being able to moor a boat on South Whidbey is a benefit many South Whidbey residents could enjoy, Schell said. Without taking away from the ambience of Langley, the project should retain it’s small-town character.

“We’d like to see ‘Village by the Sea,” Schell said, “with a place to park your boat.”

Schell and Puma said other benefits with the project would be the additional moorage capabilities, which could develop Langley into a destination for boaters between Seattle and the San Juan islands. He said the additional visitors would expand many businesses island-wide who benefit from tourist activity.

“Every time someone makes money like that,” Puma said, “that’s a multiplier.”

In an interview Thursday, Puma said he and Schell were looking for a word of support from the port commissioners that their intentions to follow through on the project were genuine.

Having developed many small and large-scale developments himself, Puma said he could understand the reservations the commissioners had about committing to continue with their largest project ever. Puma said he, Schell and Nichols Bros. Matt Nichols plan to continue to work with the Port and the city of Langley in the future.

“We are working with you in order to make this plan real,” Puma said.

Field said commissioners are positive about the meeting Wednesday, and plan to discuss future plans at the next meeting Aug. 14.

“This is a big project for the port and they want to make sure we do it right,” Field said.

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