The Clinton Beach dock has been closed to boaters for the past few weeks and will stay that way until repairs can be made, it was revealed at the April 10 Port of South Whidbey meeting.
The dock and walkway facility is separated from the ferry dock by a Cyclone fence and was in fact largely built by the ferry system when it enlarged the ferry parking area several years ago. It replaced a dock built by the port in the early 80s and updated in the 90s.
The present facility consists of a long, overwater walkway from the port’s Clinton Beach Park to a fishing area enclosed on three sides by glass. This was designed as a passenger ferry waiting area should such service ever become available. From the fishing area, a steep metal ramp runs down to two floats, one section 10 by 80 feet and the other 30 by 20 feet.
The metal ramp itself sets atop a heavy wood structure to assure handicapped access to the moorage floats, and therein lies the problem.
“It isn’t rotten, it’s waterlogged,” Commissioner Curt Gordon said at the port meeting. “There’s no saving that ramp, it has to be hauled to the dump.”
The heavy wooden structure weighs on the docks and makes them more susceptible to storm damage.
“We’ve got to get the weight of the ramp off that thing,” Gordon said.
However, with an expensive Langley Marina project in the works, Gordon wasn’t anxious to pay an engineering firm to come up with a permanent solution and then pay a major contractor to do the work.
He proposed a temporary fix instead, using local contractors, perhaps those on the small works roster, to remove the heavy structure and dump it. That would leave the lighter metal boat ramp to continue giving access to the floats which could be reopened to the public for recreational use. Eventually, the structure could be replaced to meet commercial and ADA standards.
To date, no one has complained that the boating facility is closed. “It’s closed, but we haven’t had any calls,” said Ed Field, port operations manager.
“We’ll have a gangway leading directly to the dock,” Field said the following day. “It’ll be steep at low tide but it’ll be back in use, usable for short term moorage and boat access.”
Although the facility was mostly built by Washington State Ferries, it is the port’s responsibility. “We have a no cost lease for the sidewalk and fishing pier and we own the floating structures and the gangway down is also a port structure,” Field said.