Phased marina work floated

A large-scale redevelopment plan for the Oak Harbor Marina may no longer be dead in the water.

Harbormaster Mack Funk has scheduled a public meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 17 at the Yacht Club to discuss a phased approach to accomplishing the $19 million project. He urges the public to attend.

Funk is hesitant to discuss the possibility of downscaling the project, as many city officials have said will be necessary.

“We’re applying for permits to do the whole thing,” he said, “and we plan on doing as much as we feel we can reasonably do.”

Funk said the work will be done in phases and will be funded largely by a bond repaid by marina revenues. Also, Funk has applied for grants and the city recently received $59,000 for dredging work from the state.

The first phase, Funk said, will consist of the construction of 75 new slips in an open-water area, critical dredging and construction of a new, longer gangway that’s compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, the main walkway has to be replaced, partly because the electrical system that runs along it is obsolete and deteriorating.

Funk said the phased approached, which he estimates will take five to six years, will make it easier for the marina to continue operating during construction.

“It’s kind of like remodeling a house. You have to live in it while rebuilding,” he said.

Funk said the marina will initially be able to secure a bond that’s at least $4 to $5 million, based on marina revenues. He added that the number of larger slips being built in the first phase, to meet market demand, should substantially increase marina revenues.

The Oak Harbor Marina Master Plan is a $145,000 document completed last year by a consultant. It points to the problems with the 33-year-old facility and presents solutions to keep it viable for the next 40 years.

The plan calls for $19.3 million for the critical in-water portion and another $4 million for shore side improvements. The proposed work includes replacing five of the docks with six new docks; construction of a public access float at the south end; dredging of the marina basin; and repairing or replacing the boat launch. A key element is the creation of larger slips to match market demand.

After the council adopted the plan, however, city Finance Director Doug Merriman pointed out that there was no way the city could possibly fund the work, short of a voter-approved levy or a giant grant.

Last fall, the city council approved a $287,000 contract with a consultant for preliminary engineering and permitting phases of the marina work.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynews or call 675-6611.

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