Harbor project obtains funding

Langley is in the front running for a state-funded grant that will improve the city's harbor for boaters.

Langley and the Port of South Whidbey submitted an application for a grant from the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC). On Oct. 11, the city learned that the grant review committee ranked its harbor project on the top of the 17 applications submitted for funding.

"We are extremely delighted with this news," said Mayor Neil Colburn.

Competition for the grant was stiff.

This year, the combined project applications sought $5.3 million in funding, but only $1.6 million is available.

But with Langley's harbor project tied for first place, it's very likely the funds will come through.

The IAC Board will meet on Nov. 15 to consider their committee's recommendations.

Scott Chapman, IAC Area Project Manager, said the IAC board doesn't have to follow the rank list. But 99.9 percent of the time they do.

The board feels very confident about the grant review process and typically follow the committee's recommendations, he said.

One reason for Langley's success was the high percent of matching funds provided by the Port of South Whidbey.

The total budget for the harbor project is $337,066. Of that amount, the port committed $152,100.

In order to apply for the IAC grant, an agency must provide at least 25 percent of a project's required funds. The port's matching funds cover 46 percent of the total cost for Langley's project.

This allowed the project to pick up extra points.

"Langley received two extra points," Chapman said. "Which can be pretty critical because a lot of projects are separated by hundredths of points."

The mayor thanked the port for the district's contribution.

"We are grateful to the port for agreeing to increase their matching percentage," Colburn said. "This action certainly communicated to the committee that the project has strong local support."

Chapman said the Langley harbor project was also successful because it focused on getting trailer boats into the water, and improving the boat launch and parking.

"I think that all the people who worked on the project really listened to the IAC in terms of what they said they wanted," said Councilmember Robert Gilman. "And the team did a good job of communicating that reality to the IAC."

Gilman said it's likely that this project won't be the end for improvements at the boat harbor.

"The city is definitely interested in carrying the overall design further to enhance the park-like features," Gilman said.

The port and IAC-funded improvements to the Langley marina include improving the traffic flow and more parking for vehicles with boat trailers, as well as a new slightly-steeper boat ramp to prevent sand from building up on it.

A new floating dock will also be put in on the south side of the boat ramp.

This will serve as a dingy dock to make it easier for boats moored out in the harbor to come in, and may also serve as a launch for kayaks and canoes.

"If the IAC board approves full funding in November, then the city will immediately begin planning for construction," Colburn said. "All of the required permits have been obtained or are in the final stages of approval."

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