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Oak Harbor Marina at top of city priority list

Redevelopment and improvements of Oak Harbor Marina top the list of the city’s priorities.  - Photo by Janis Reid/Whidbey News-times
Redevelopment and improvements of Oak Harbor Marina top the list of the city’s priorities.
— image credit: Photo by Janis Reid/Whidbey News-times

Redevelopment of the Oak Harbor Marina is once again the top priority among a list of capital facilities projects on the city’s wish list.

Last month, Development Services Director Steve Powers gave members of the City Council some homework. He asked them to use a set of criteria to assign points to a list of proposed projects for the city.

Powers tallied up the results and created a prioritized list of projects, with the marina redevelopment at the top and Windjammer Park redevelopment coming in second.

Harbormaster Chris Sublet said in an interview this week that he was excited the marina development came in first, as it did when the project priority list was first created eight years ago. He hopes this means that the city and community will begin talking about the options.

“On Sept. 8, the marina is going to be 40 years old,” he said. “Things are beginning to come to the end of their natural life.”

Sublet said he wants to explore whether it makes sense to rebuild or remodel the marina and even the possibility of moving it. One idea that’s being talked about is moving the marina closer to downtown, possibly at the site of the former Maylor Dock off Flintstone Park.

“We want to consider if it’s the right size, the right place, the right slip mix,” he said. “We have a fantastic opportunity.”

Other projects that have long been discussed in the city came in lower.

A new senior center and a special events center are near the bottom of the list.

Powers explained that there was a wide variety of criteria used to rank the projects. He said it looked, for example, at public safety, public welfare and “good things to do for the community.”

City officials last prioritized projects in 2006, when the city was focused on a number of capital-facilities projects.

At that time, the City Council approved a priority list created by staff, based on a hierarchal list of criteria.

A $19 million marina redevelopment project was the top project, followed by a $10.6 million Pioneer Way reconstruction, which was completed, a $13.2 million project to widen State Highway 20 and then Windjammer Park redevelopment, which was estimated to cost $10 million.

This time the projects didn’t include cost estimates.

Powers explained that prioritizing the list signals to staff and the community what the council thinks are the most important projects, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the top priority projects will be the first to be completed.

He pointed out that the waterfront trail was originally No. 13 on the list, but it was completed because “circumstances presented themselves.”

“If we don’t have a place to start, everything is ranked No. 1 and nothing gets done,” he told the City Council during a workshop last week.

Powers said the city staff will now take projects from the list and distribute them into other lists the city maintains.

Such things as “pedestrian access improvements” and “local street overlays” may go into a project list in the street fund.

As for marina redevelopment, Powers said it will likely go into a “20-year” list of projects. With the giant sewage treatment plant on the horizon, the city likely won’t be taking out loans for a marina project in the near future.

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