After years of planning, revision and discussion, it appears phase one of the Langley Marina project will float after all.
Following a public hearing Thursday, Ted Hunter, the hearing examiner the city hired this past fall to make decisions on major development permits, said he would green light the Port of South Whidbey’s marina proposal in a written decision to be issued within 10 days.
“I do that because you have a supportive crowd here tonight; nobody is objecting to it and you as applicants have done a lot of work in advance,” Hunter said. “The record is thick with the work that you’ve done.”
“You’ve been, I think, very patient with federal agencies, and it seems to me the city is now in a very cooperative relationship in trying to get something done that will improve access to boating facilities in this particular marina,” he added.
Port Commissioner Chris Jerome said he was pleased with the decision and is eager to see the project finally get moving.
“I was fairly confident it would move ahead, but you never know,” Jerome said.
There was no public presence or participation at the hearing, which the commissioner said he takes as a sign of support.
“The people of Langley want this to happen, I believe,” Jerome said.
Plans for a major renovation and expansion to the 38-slip facility have been ongoing since 2003. They picked up in earnest in 2007, when the port purchased a 400-foot floating breakwater and then, in later years, refined plans for a 125-slip marina.
This latest plan, which port officials emphasize is just the first phase of the larger plan, is estimated to cost about $2.5 million. It will mean the repositioning of the breakwater, the placement of an 80-foot gangway connecting it to the marina dock and the installation of supporting utilities.
A new gangway and boarding floats will also be installed at the boat ramp. Decking on the old Hein wharf and creosote piles next to the boat ramp will be removed.
Port officials say the primary benefits of phase one are that it will provide additional capacity and access to the marina. Transient moorage will be expanded and use of the breakwater will allow tour, passenger ferry and other large commercial vessels to tie up in Langley.
Hunter’s decision, which is really just a recommendation to the state Department of Ecology, was a big hurdle in the permitting process, but final approval from the regulator agency is still required, as are some federal permits.
Commissioner Curt Gordon said the port will not send the project out to bid this summer as planned.
“We have a little bit of a cart/horse issue,” he said.
However, Gordon said he’s optimistic things will move forward and that by February 2013, phase one will be complete.
Port Manager Ed Field agreed.
“I want to get this thing built,” he said.