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VIEWPOINT | Langley marina expansion won’t float without clearer vision
In response to the Record Aug. 17 editorial, “Marina expansion is worthy investment,” I agree on the face that large, expensive infrastructure projects can sometimes be unpopular but can have long term benefits.
The Langley Marina in its present vision is not such a project. Yes, port districts by law must foster economic development but economic development in any definition means financial gain for taxpayers.
The Langley Marina does not accomplish this in its present form or thinking.
The Record is correct that boating is a huge industry and being a beautiful island it seems natural that we should participate in that business.
But, the adage of “build it and they will come” does not always happen. The Record mentions Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge but the reality for taxpayers at the nearby Bremerton Marina is not so rosy.
A Kitsap Sun story, “Bremerton Marina tax fell under public’s radar,” reported that “the public’s focus is still on how the $34 million marina was paid for and the 45 cents per $1,000 tax hit on property for residents within the boundaries of the Port of Bremerton.”
A Langley Marina could perhaps be an economic driver if well thought out and actual research and logic directed it.
In an emailed response to my public records request in 2012 about marketing studies, Port Manager Ed Field said the port had done absolutely no research about what went wrong with the Bremerton Marina. Field went on to state that growing boat size is a limiting factor to high occupancy rates and, “Therefore, there is no point in competitive marketing efforts and the port does not engage in them at all.”
The Bremerton Patriot on April 15, 2013, reported that the Bremerton Port finally hired a consultant for $9,000 a month to implement a marketing plan. The article states that the marina after years of trying is only 30 percent filled. The close by Port Washington Marina is currently in receivership.
The amount of money we taxpayers are being obligated to by a port that has no solid idea how the millions of tax dollars will ever be paid back or how the marina will benefit the taxpayer and businesses outside of Langley is astounding. How will those who do dock in Langley visit businesses outside the city?
The port maxed out our credit card – $850,000 – for no measurable economic benefit to taxpayers outside of a Langley few.
But wait, the port claims they did not max out the district’s borrowing power. True it can borrow much, much more backed by the full faith and credit of you the taxpayer through higher tax rates with no vote, as the Bremerton Marina did.
Let us not forget the port’s own study that determined the marina will never break even without fuel service and 200 slips.
So millions obligated to unsuspecting taxpayers and no realistic plan how it will be repaid except by higher taxes.
Attend Port meetings and demand to see your tax dollars spent on economic development that benefits everyone, not a few special interests.