Opinion

Boating community supports new marina

We, members of the resident boating community, request that progress be made at the Langley Marina soon, so that the marina brings visitors and more business to the city, and also better accommodates more resident and visiting boaters.

While we support and appreciate the planned major capital expenditures, there is no need to wait for an estimated six years for the completion of the important long-term capital planning and funding and then construction by the Port District of South Whidbey and the city of Langley. We should make significant improvements in the near future.

Some principles for near-term actions:

Think outside the box;

Think outside the water;

Think what boaters really want: convenient access to their boats;

Think service: to meet boaters real needs, with costs shared by boaters and the city and the port;

Think near-term and focus on results;

Think expenditures that are scalable to meet growing demand, partially offset by revenues; and

Think reasonable capital expenditure that may be made quickly for short term improvements.

Many of the 35 existing slips may be freed for use by visitors who spend money in Langley.

Some residents use a boat only few times each month, and do not need to tie up an existing slip. Some boaters prefer to keep their boat out of the water, but want it accessible in an hour’s notice.

Large boats can be moved to anchored floats in the interim, rather than blocking multiple slips, thereby increasing the number of resident and visitor boats served. Seattle boaters might relocate their boats to floats at Langley.

Some of the specific suggestions entail paying staff to provide some services. However, user fees may pay most of that, and Langley businesses should not have to wait many years to benefit from improving their customer base.

Provide on-trailer storage (e.g. at county fairgrounds or school lots in summer), with paid staff to launch the boat, retrieve the boat and tow it to storage, perhaps on a one-hour notice. Charge a monthly or per-use fee.

Provide dry storage stacks for boats on shore beside the water. Racks can be on leased or purchased property, and be self-supporting or even profitable. Charge a monthly or per-use fee.

Fast track the anchoring of the new breakwater, with floating docks and buoys behind it, especially for large craft, with an on-call small boat taxi providing access to the shore. Tour boats should tie only to the north side of that breakwater.

Provide some stern end-ties along the marina side of the new breakwater (perhaps at half-price) in addition to side-ties, to gain more than the proposed seven new slips.

Broker leases along the shore beyond the boundaries of the marina, from adjacent waterfront property owners to anchor more floating docks for visitors (or residents), with on-call water taxi service.

Provide a clearinghouse to facilitate private docking arrangements between willing water-front property owners and interested boaters.

For long-term capital planning, balance among economic development mission of port district; commercial interests of the city; the interests of citizen tax-payers; the needs of resident boaters, paying fair user fees; and the opportunities for attracting visiting boaters and yacht clubs.

We need both short-term and long-term solutions. We should work on both. Thank you for your work and time.

David R. Powers, Richard Robbins, Suzanne Dobrin, Derek Pritchard, Robert Boehm and Kes Tautvydas are South Whidbey residents.

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