Port ponders beach access signs on South Whidbey

Public beach access signs may soon be more abundant around South Whidbey.

Port of South Whidbey Commissioners agreed to work with Island Beach Access, a citizen advocacy group, in establishing signs for public access areas during a special meeting Tuesday, March 25.

The beach access group applied for funds from the port during the regular meeting earlier this month. The group hoped to build a website identifying public access areas from the $5,000 in funds the group sought from the port.

In the initial proposal, commissioners were left unclear if the money would be used primarily to establish a website or for fieldwork to determine the exact areas of public use.

Commissioner Curt Gordon said he hoped to receive an application to establish signs for public access areas from both the water and land side, an idea which was discussed with Island Beach Access members in earlier meetings.

The commissioners asked the group to come back with more details on how they would use the money.

Members of the beach access group were in attendance to discuss the process of pinpointing the exact measurements of public areas. They expressed their concerns over accurately identifying all the locations before installing signs.

“Accuracy here is paramount if you want to put up signs that you want to keep in place,” said Mike McVay of Island Beach Access.

Commissioners Dennis Gregoire and Ed Halloran suggested to start with a small number of signs where the locations were definite.

“The port wants to support citizens for public access,” Gregoire said. “They’ve done great work. The issues identified here are complicated and need to be carefully requested.”

The commissioners agreed to continue the discussion and leave the grant amount as a placeholder. The group will work with port staff in the next few months to establish a definite plan on how the money is used.

“This needs to be clean because we’re using public funding,” Gordon said.

In the March regular meeting, the Port also approved grants for several other groups. The Whidbey Island Conservation District received $1,000 for advertising and promotion of the Whidbey Island Farm Tour, South Whidbey Assembly of God received $1,010 for portable toilets for Celebrate America and the Orca Network received $5,000 for the Langley Whale Center.  Also, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce received $4,270 for the Clinton Thursday Market, Clinton Progressive Association received $800 for Mayfest promotion and the Greater Freeland Chamber of Commerce received $5,000 for tourism brochures.

The amount requested totaled $22,080, with $5,000 held aside for Island Beach Access.