Port of South Whidbey project hits snag

With a grant application denied, Port of South Whidbey officials were scratching their heads last week looking for alternative ways to fund a renovation of the Possession Beach boat ramp.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, before the board’s regular meeting, the commissioners received notice that the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office had rejected the ports grant application.

According to Port Operations Manager Ed Field, the request was denied partially because the project manager at the state agency charged with reviewing the project was swapped with another official and missing materials were caught after the transition.

Although the port believed the application was complete, the new manager denied the grant because it was incomplete. The agency’s rules required the inclusion of certain construction documents, which were not included.

“I asked how that could have happened with their project manager sitting next to us,” Field said. “Her response was ‘I don’t have an explanation for that.’ ”

The port planned to use the grant money to design and obtain permits for the first phase of the boat ramp project. Port officials want to renovate the launch to alleviate the increasing cost of maintaining the worn-down ramp.

The board was in the process of reviewing applications for a consultant team for the first phase of the project when the grant was rejected.

The $99,000 renovation project would have been funded with $74,000 from the grant and $25,000 in matching funds from the port.

The port is seeking a consulting firm to complete the site investigation, preliminary design and engineering, public input, State Environmental Policy Act or SEPA, checklist and preparation and submittal of the Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application or JARPA.

The board decided to weigh two options for the project: seek another grant from the agency and delay the project, or cover the difference with port funds.

Due to a schedule conflict, the board heard one consultant submittal from Shannon Kinsella at Reid Middleton, a structural engineering firm, during the regular meeting. Kinsella highlighted the firm’s numerous public clients and waterfront projects.

She explained how the firm would approach the project and the timeline of their work, which would begin in November with a preliminary habitat survey.

The board decided to hear the final two consultant submittals for the project at its meeting next week, Sept. 24, before making a decision about funding.


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