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Marina permit clears city scrutiny

The Oak Harbor Marina redevelopment project cleared a major hurdle Wednesday night when the City Council approved the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit.

Accepting the city planning commission’s earlier recommendation to approve the permit, council members completed the local government portion of the quasi-judicial Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application process at the meeting

Cac Kamak, city senior planner, said the first part of the plan will involve dredging the harbor in critical areas to improve depth and navigability, and constructing a new main walkway with new utilities, as well as a handicapped-accessible gangway.

The marina facilities and infrastructure have deteriorated over time from normal use, requiring replacement, repair and maintenance actions, Kamak said.

The original marina redevelopment plan, which the city paid a consultant $145,000 to create, proposed more than $19 million of work on the facility. A lack of funding, however, prompted the city to adopt a phased approach.

The project scope also includes constructing a new F dock and replacing existing docks.

Kamak said the marina has accumulated considerable amounts of silt since the last dredging in 1942.

A hydraulic machine would dredge 208,000 cubic feet of material from the harbor bed. Barges would then transport the material to one of two state-approved disposal sites in Puget Sound.

The new docks would accommodate bigger boats with 75 new slips, ranging in sizes from 40 to 50 feet, filling a need identified by market studies.

Removal of sunken barges at the south side of the marina would help improve the water quality and free up space for a new multi-use float. The project must adhere to requirements of the state Department of Ecology’s Shoreline Master Program, including an extensive list of mitigation measures. Removing the barges, clearing out creosote piles that are currently used in the docks, and restoring approximately 800 feet of beach are part of the mitigation measures.

With limited physical space to carry out mitigation, the city opted to donate $50,000 to the Island County Marine Resources Committee to allow them to expand their partially funded project in Cornet Bay.

Councilman Danny Paggao asked William Gerken, senior engineer with the Seattle firm PND Incorporated, why a monetary donation would be necessary. The engineer said rather than search for further mitigation at the marina simply to meet the requirements, money will be given to a worthy project that has gained considerable community support.

“It’s a rather innovative way to approach mitigation in Puget Sound,” Gerken said.

Paggao then inquired about possible noise pollution during the pile driving. With Skagit Valley College and residences in close proximity, the councilman was concerned that construction would cause disruptions.

Pilings will be driven in with a vibratory hammer, Gerken said, which will all but eliminate the loud noise implicit in continuous impact driving.

“We’re not anticipating a lot of impact drive,” the engineer said, adding that pulling out pilings will be similarly quiet, as the vibratory hammer will essentially be used in reverse.

The City Council, adequately assuaged by the presentation, approved the permit. It still must be approved at the state level.

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