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Voters rejecting makeover for Langley Marina

The $8.2 million levy request by the Port of South Whidbey to do a make-over of the small boat harbor in Langley is going to defeat by 2,766 votes as of late Tuesday night.

The port needed at least 50 percent approval to put the measure over the top.

Initial numbers show the port's marina plan failing by 5,235 votes to 2,469 in favor. Commissioner Rolf Seitle said he wasn't surprised.

"All requests for levies, including ours, are going down and the economy is the reason, not the merits of our plan," he said. "People are not willing to support an increase in their tax rates and I certainly understand that."

However, when the port takes control in January, they still intend to position the breakwater, spruce up Phil Simon Park, add parking and make the boat launch ramp work right.

The port had hoped to build a 100-slip marina in Langley — including 65 permanent and 35 transient slips — to be paid for by a 20-year levy costing South End taxpayers 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The money raised was to be exclusively for constructing the marina, Seitle said. Port officials estimated it would bring in more than $2.3 million in added revenue. Seitle said the port already has 57 people on a waiting list for a permanent slip, which will enable the marina to be self-sustaining and cover overhead costs.

Commissioners believe that the marina would dramatically improve the harbor environment, bring in needed tourist dollars and act as an emergency stop for ferries should a disaster, natural or otherwise, damage the Clinton ferry dock.

Some residents questioned the need for a marina, especially in a time of economic uncertainty. But proponents argued this was the right time as a marina would encourage development that might protect South Whidbey if the recession worsens.

Other measures linked to property tax increases were also falling in defeat.

Proposals for a new community rec center on South Whidbey, a tax levy to pay for the purchase of Greenbank Farm, and a levy lift for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue were also being rejected by voters Tuesday night.

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