Makeover in sight for city’s Phil Simon Park

In an ever-growing partnership, the Port District of South Whidbey and the city of Langley are working together to create their biggest project yet.

Talking together Wednesday, Jack Lynch, manager of the Langley Boat Harbor Project, Langley Mayor Neil Colburn and Port president Rolf Seitle were excited about a preliminary design for the redesign of Phil Simon Park and the renovation of the boat launch.

The two agencies held a public meeting to go over the plan Tuesday, during which port commissioners, city employees and the public got to take their first look at the designs. Lynch said the project was largely well received, with many residents curious about how the project will change the harbor area.

“It was pretty positive,” he said.

Lynch said the largest changes to the land next to the harbor will be developing it from largely a parking lot into a park. In addition to less parking in the area, there will be about a 30-percent reduction in impervious surfaces.

“The idea is to make this more pedestrian-friendly and oriented,” he said.

The preliminary design largely shows the interchange of Phil Simon Park and the parking lot area. Currently, the area is a parking lot with a small park in the corner, but the project will transform the area into a park with a small parking lot set further back from the beach.

A 120-foot boardwalk cantilevered from the current bulkhead will provide pedestrians with a place to walk or sit, and a kiosk interpretive center and arbor trellis will act as a focal point for visitors who arrive by boats.

Turning the park into a greener area with less parking is a trade-off, Lynch said, but will make the park a focus in what is already a small area. A small flagpole plaza, two different types of decorative concrete, additional lighting and trees in the preliminary design will add to the park-like feel in the harbor.

“This is a fairly confined area,” Lynch said.

On the boat launch, Lynch said improvements will make it accessible to boaters more than it is currently. The ramp is in a depression and he said by extending the wingwalls starting at a higher point, it will allow more boats a greater window of time to leave or enter the harbor, become more user-friendly and require less maintenance. A 50-60 foot launch float will also aid boaters using the launch, and seven creosote piles will be removed.

“It will be a big improvement over what it is right now,” Lynch said. “This is a great safe haven to come into because it’s protected.”

The city of Langley paid $7,500 for the preliminary design to the Seattle firm The Berger Partnerships.

According to Seitle, the port will be the lead agency developing the area. He estimated the improvements to Phil Simon Park will cost the port approximately $350,000 and about $100,000 for the boat launch.

An inter-local agreement for the park and ramp project is still being developed. Mayor Colburn said the transfer of the property from Langley to the port could take place as early as January 2006.

Jennifer Conway / The Record

Kay Huang, left, and Sumei Chen of Seattle enjoyed a picnic last week in Phil Simon Park in Langley. The pocket-sized park near the boat harbor will be the topic of discussion at a workshop in city hall Wednesday.

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