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Controversial dredging project at Lagoon Point comes to close

Workers survey a bulkhead on a waterfront home at Lagoon Point last week after dredging work at the private marina was completed. It was a complicated project that spanned about six years. - Justin Burnett / The Record
Workers survey a bulkhead on a waterfront home at Lagoon Point last week after dredging work at the private marina was completed. It was a complicated project that spanned about six years.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Six years of work culminated at Lagoon Point last week when contractors wrapped up dredging work at the community’s small, private marina.

Up to 26,000 cubic yards of material was successfully dredged from the small-boat facility and redeposited along the beach to improve fish foraging habitat.

The community still has years of environmental monitoring work ahead but the heavy lifting is largely done, said Louise Abbott, president of the Lagoon Point Community Association.

“We’re just happy it’s done,” she said.

It’s been a long and difficult project, both logistically and socially. Permitting alone took about six years and the project has been a source of division among the community’s 465 lot owners, Abbott said.

Permitting headaches persisted right up until last week. The homeowners association was required to get federal, state and county permits but a hiccup in the county permit became apparent after the dredging contractor had mobilized on site.

According to Brad Johnson, a senior planner with Island County Planning and Community Development, the homeowners association was issued a permit from the department nearly two years ago but certain conditions were not met.

An included eelgrass survey and mitigation plan was “not consistent with the original permit” and the problem took about six days to rectify.

“They ultimately complied with all our requirements,” Johnson said.

The green light to begin work was granted on Sept. 16 and work proceeded fairly quickly after that, said Andy Messer, chairman of the community’s dredging committee.

The project, which has been under discussion for a decade, was also a source of fiery debate among residents. Hand-painted signs are speckled throughout the neighborhood with messages such as, “Can you moor your boat at Lagoon Point? Vote no,” and “Stop the dredging scam.”

Three property owners with signs in their yards were contacted for this story but all declined to comment.

The underlying objection, however, is that the project will only benefit those with boats but is being funding by the entire homeowners association.

Messer said there are 149 lots along the canal and not all are developed or have boats.

Some others also expressed concerns that the dredging work may undermine or cause problems with bulkheads on waterfront lots.

Messer added that much of the criticism died away after the work began. Neither he nor Abbott could say exactly how much the project will cost.

“It’s less than $1 million but by the time we tally it all up, it will be more than half that,” Messer said.

Conditions of the homeowners association’s dredging permits require several years of environmental monitoring and that will be an unknown and ongoing expense, he said.

 

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