County's dock dilemma

For more than six decades, commercial and recreational boat owners have been using a dock on Cornet Bay that is owned by the county.

Island County officials have been questioning whether to keep the dock in recent years as its deteriorating condition has become more apparent and the county doesn’t want to foot the bill to fix it.

County officials continue to look into whether they want to repair, replace or sell the dock, which has been an ongoing issue since 1992.

Island County Parks Superintendent Lee McFarland estimates it would cost the county $45,000 to $50,000 to replace the walkway, 230 feet of floats and six pilings.

He added that the county could then expect another round of repair work in five years.

McFarland’s report didn’t sit well with the Island County Commissioners.

“To spend $45,000 is not a good use of public funds,” said Commissioner Mac McDowell.

The county currently has $39,000 in a dock fund and would have to tap into other funds to make up the shortfall.

If the county wants to replace the dock, it would have to shell out approximately $600,000 to do so.

“There’s no way the taxpayers of Island County should subsidize the moorage of these boats,” Commissioner Mike Shelton said.

The commissioners were talking about the future of the 600-foot dock during a staff session at the Island County Administration Building.

Officials said the dock can’t stay in its current condition because of increasing liability concerns, but no decisions were made about the dock’s future.

Approximately 30 boats are moored at the dock and half of those are commercial boats. Residents living on a nearby island also use the dock, McFarland said.

He said boat owners pay only $200 annually for moorage fees because the dock is a poor location for boaters and many of of the boats scrape bottom during low tides.

McDowell suggested contacting the people who use the dock before moving forward with any plans.

The dock was originally donated to the county in 1940 to keep as long as it was used for public necessity.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at or 675-6611.

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