Port of South Whidbey names pro and con representatives for marina ballot measure

FREELAND — The Port of South Whidbey announced two South Enders to spearhead the campaign, for and against, the port's plan to build a new marina in Langley's harbor.

The port plans to take over operations of the city marina in January.

"This is the start of the long and winding road to spread the word and get public input," port manager Ed Field said Wednesday night.

Maureen Cooke, owner of the Fish Bowl restaurant in Langley, will try to convince voters that the $8.2 million marina will spur economic activity, create jobs and help make South Whidbey a desired destination for boaters all over the Puget Sound area.

"I'm very happy to take on this challenge," Cooke said.

"The new marina will bring in serious money to help us financially even as the economy seems to be slowing," she said.

Ron Lacour of Freeland has been an outspoken critic of the project, appearing at several port meetings to grill commissioners over what he considers the marina's questionable economic benefits.

"The commissioners wanted a different view of the marina," Lacour said. "I'm not against the idea; I just don't believe it should be a public project."

But the port may need to look elsewhere.

"However, I'm thinking I may turn over the material I've gathered because there is a potential conflict of interest," he said.

Lacour's wife works for the Island County Auditor.

In July, commissioners decided on a ballot measure for a 9-cent increase in the port's property tax levy. The levy would be assessed for 20 years.

Currently, the port collects 10.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

If the measure passes on Nov. 4, homeowners would see a roughly $32 per year increase for a home valued at $360,000. The total levy for an owner of a $360,000 home would be approximately $70 a year.

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