Waterfront plan makes progress

Last March, the Oak Harbor City Council adopted the Waterfront, Redevelopment, Branding and Marketing Program with much pomp and a little circumstance.

The largely unfunded $32 million tourism-boosting plan created by Olympia consultant Roger Brooks is supposed to guide the city in redeveloping and revitalizing the city’s downtown and waterfront area, with such highlights as a special events center, an outdoor amphitheater, a water-view hotel, angled parking on Pioneer Way, an expanded RV park, a giant playground and a pier.

Since the adoption, residents might not have noticed much in the way of progress, but it’s there.

Members of the the plan’s steering group, the Windjammer Committee, city staff and downtown merchants say they have been busily working behind the scenes, fitting together the foundation pieces of the giant puzzle.

The committee has had trouble finding the right person to fill the vital project director position, but expect cheery Christmas events downtown and maybe even snazzy new signs around the city by end of the year.

“While it may not seem like things are happening right now,” said Councilman Larry Eaton, chairman of the Windjammer Committee, “organizational and planning things are happening in the background that aren’t visible to the citizens right now. But there is positive movement.”

The first visible sign of progress that came as a result of the plan was a banner at Beeksma Park, directing folks to Harborside Shops, the new name for the

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