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State pier funding sought

Like an old man and the sea, Harbormaster Dave Williams has been casting out and working hard to drag in his catch.

But in this case, Williams is fishing for money to fund the future Oak Harbor municipal pier.

On Sept. 29, Williams is heading to Olympia to try to convince the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation to give him an $820,000 grant to fund construction of the pier. The grant would require $680,000 in matching funds.

If he’s successful, the city would have a total of $2.6 million in grants and matching funds to construct the $7 million pier.

By next spring, the Y-shaped pier will be completely permitted, designed, engineered and ready to be built. Volunteer members of the pier committee have been working more than seven years to complete the project.

If all goes well, Williams predicts that construction could begin in 2007. The pier is envisioned as a vital transportation link for passenger-only ferries, a place for tour boats to stop, a recreational facility for boaters and seaplane pilots, and a major tourism draw that has been folded into consultant Roger Brooks’ overall downtown tourism and redevelopment plan.

It will be built at Flintstone Park, which is on Bayshore Drive across from Mi Pueblo restaurant.

The biggest obstacle left is funding. So far, the focus has been on finding grants.

For the construction phase, the city received an $836,000 grant from the federal Transportation Equity Act — a Legacy for Users and a $240,000 aviation grant from the state Department of Transportation.

“We’re still beating the bushes,” Williams said, “but bit by bit we’re getting this thing funded.”

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