News

County loses parking fee at park

Island County’s effort to stop park rangers from enforcing a parking fee on a portion of Cornet Bay Road has proven futile.

The county claimed it owned and maintained the roadway and thus Deception Pass State Park rangers did not have the authority to enforce the parking fee. The area is frequented by people who park and walk to the beach to fish or hike.

After months of research, however, it turned out that the state park system owns the road and the day-use fee on the road is in effect.

“It is no longer a county road and it isn’t going to be maintained as a county road,” said Island County Public Works Director Bill Oakes, after a title search revealed the truth of the matter.

Commissioner Bill Byrd said the county has learned its claim to the road was revoked when Deception Pass State Park was established in 1925.

Island County was originally deeded the stretch of land that runs from the entrance to the state park to Hoypus Point in 1919 from the United States War Department.

The road originally provided access to a ferry dock for a Mosquito Fleet vessel that ran throughout the islands.

The county disputed the parking fee throughout the summer. Early this year, Washington State Parks adopted a $5 day use parking fee for park users. When county maintenance crews worked on Cornet Bay Road, they would often remove the parking fee signs the rangers had posted, thinking it was a county roadway.

Park users began paying a $5 day-use vehicle fee last January. Folks not paying the fee could be subject to a $118 fine.

With the ownership issue of Cornet Bay Road resolved, design work to replace and renovate the boat ramp near the road continues.

Washington State Parks Commission wants to expand the boat dock and replace a log boom. The $1.7 million project is funded by a grant from the state Interagency Committee on Outdoor Recreation.

Jack Hartt, park manager at Deception Pass, said the road ownership issue needed to be resolved before the dock project could move forward.

The state park is also waiting for a permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The future of the narrow stretch of Cornet Bay Road leading to Hoypus Point is questioned by some. That part of the road provides easy access to salmon and smelt fishing areas.

There is a rumor that the stretch of road is going to be closed to make way for a hiking trail. But Thuy Luu-Beams, spokesperson for the Parks Commission, said that there aren’t any plans to close that road.

“The road is open and will remain open,” Luu-Beams said.

She said that there is an option in the Deception Pass State Park Master Facilities Plan to change the road, but officials are just talking and nothing is set in stone yet.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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