Opinion

EDITORIAL | Possession Point boat ramp project a worthy objective

The boat launch at Possession Point Waterfront Park may soon get an overhaul.

The Port of South Whidbey is in the process of planning substantial renovations, and the commissioners are right to pursue this long overdue project. The proposal recently came under fire from neighbors concerned about potential noise impacts, and their objections should be thoughtfully considered, but not at the expense of the interests of the public and the environment.

As presented, the project will move the launch to the south, closer to the nearby houses. While one cost would be additional noise for homeowners, the relocation and other design changes would still pay. If it works as designers maintain, the move would reduce sand accumulation over the ramp, which would make it more usable for boaters, require less regular maintenance by port staff and limit possible negative impacts to sand lance, an important food source for salmon.

The project would also result in the installation of steel pilings, replacing the existing creosote ones that are fading from use everywhere due to their poisonous effect.

Such improvements are expensive, especially it seems when the work is for government projects. Early estimates of this proposal have penciled out at about $450,000, but it’s a price worth paying when considering the potential long-term benefits. Increasing the availability and usability for the public alone might be worth the cost, as Whidbey residents value and spend much time on the water, but the project also means a savings of regular maintenance dollars and a smaller footprint on Puget Sound’s fragile environment.

Finally, fostering economic development is the primary function of port districts, but maintaining and improving access to the waterfront is a close second. The commissioners should always be working toward these ends — it’s what they were elected to do — and it’s good to see that the board hasn’t forgotten these lesser responsibilities in the wake of larger projects, such as the recent marina expansion.

This project is a worthy investment with benefits that far outweigh its shortcoming, and should move ahead.

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