Councilman pushes underwater diving option

Debate flared again at Monday night’s Langley City Council meeting over an area for divers at the marina.

During an update on a Port of South Whidbey plan to develop the marina, which it took over from the city this year, council member Russell Sparkman, a scuba-diving enthusiast, lamented the absence of a diving park in the plan.

“As I said before, this is an economic opportunity for the city to lose,” Sparkman said.

“Diving isn’t just going underwater to look at anemones,” he added. “Langley has the potential to be the premier dive location in Puget Sound.”

“Boats and divers don’t mix,” said Rolf Seitle of Langley, a port commissioner. “Especially power boats and divers. There has to be a separation.”

Sparkman said the tire reef already at the marina is a terrific underwater habitat popular with scuba divers, who come from throughout the region to attend diving classes and explore marine life.

The port has applied for a state grant to remove the tires as part of its redevelopment plan.

“They say it’s a hazard and they want it out of there,” Seitle said of the state.

He said the port’s mandate is to develop a basin for a marina, and that research so far doesn’t indicate a lot of economic benefit from the diving community.

“We’re trying,” Seitle said.

But Sparkman predicted a regional dive site would attract divers, their families and their checkbooks from as far away as British Columbia, California, Montana and Wyoming.

“That should be the goal,” Sparkman said.

“We’ll figure out how to make this work,” Mayor Paul Samuelson said.

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