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Cornet Bay dock rules enforced

Island County has a problem. Actually, it currently has two and recently solved two others.

The problems are derelict boats. These are boats that the owners have abandoned or allowed to deteriorate on Island County property. Two of these boats sit, sink, then sit again at the county’s dock in Cornet Bay.

The problem is that facility is cheap storage, Island County Parks Director Terry Arnold said.

“This is not storage though, the boats are supposed to be moved once every two weeks,” she said.

But a walk along the shaky dock shows obvious signs of the condition of her two problem boats. The Keori, a red and white sailboat has sunk twice. It sits against the dock, moss and even blades of grass growing from its wood trim. A quite nice boat, it has fallen prey to negligece. Arnold said the boat’s owner, Andy Schell of Bethell, Alaska, had been in contact with the county every two weeks.

Schell had only paid half of his moorage fees in 2003 and none for 2004. He recently sent in a payment in an attempt to appease the county, but Arnold said she had already begun the process of removing him.

“I don’t want him at my dock, so I’m evicting him,” she said.

Further down the dock is Sealife, a green and white trawler with more trash in it than fishing gear. A loosely bolted piece of plywood dangles from the bow, an apparent attempt at a repair.

Arnold said this boat is in a similar situation as the Keori, the owner has paid a total of $500 out of the $1,000 owed.

The problem largely lies in the management of the dock, Arnold said. Prior to this year, no records were kept of payments being made. Regulations governing the dock have not been updated since 1977.

“We’ve created the monster because over the years, we’ve kept rates so low, that it’s cheap storage,” Arnold said.

The county has incurred more than $4,100 in costs to remove two boats. This does not include costs for the two boats that still need to be removed, Arnold said.

The county is eligible to receive a 75-percent reimbursement from the state under the Derelict Vessel Removal Program. This program is only available for government agencies, however.

“If there’s a boat that washes up on private property, it’s really the land owner’s responsibility,” Arnold said.

But that is changing. Arnold has made it her mission to improve the aesthetics of the dock and make it a more viable resource for the county. She said that once the derelict boats are removed, sections of the floating dock will be replaced.

Shortly after that, a new aluminum pier will be put in place to replace the antiquated shaking structure already there. She said that she will be able to increase moorage rates from the paltry $2 per day or $200 per year to approximately $600 per year.

“When the word gets out that I’m starting to enforce, boats start flying out of here,” she said. “This is my year of taking Cornet Bay and making it a viable dock.”

eberto@whidbeynewstimes.com

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