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Maylor Point trail opened in 2-year deal

A “no trespassing” sign hangs on a locked gate that blocks access to Maylor Point. The city of Oak Harbor and the Navy reached a long-awaited agreement this week to allow public access to the point.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
A “no trespassing” sign hangs on a locked gate that blocks access to Maylor Point. The city of Oak Harbor and the Navy reached a long-awaited agreement this week to allow public access to the point.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

The Navy will allow the city of Oak Harbor public access to Maylor Point, based on a tentative two-year contract.

With plenty of excitement and a hint of apprehension, Oak Harbor City Council members unanimously approved a contract agreement for the long-awaited, final segment of the waterfront trail extension.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and there’s always been talk of this,” said Councilman Jim Palmer. “To see this all come to be is a fantastic event.”

Not everyone shared Palmer’s enthusiasm for the new trail segment.

Mel Vance, who ran in the August primary as a City Council candidate and lost to Scott Dudley and Gerry Oliver, is concerned that the city should focus on existing parks and trails before it creates new ones.

“We have existing parks that have had upgrades delayed,” he reminded the council.

His warning apparently didn’t faze the council, which voted unanimously to approve the two-year contract with Navy Region Northwest.

Funding is available, although the trail’s day-to-day maintenance will place an added burden on parks staff, according to City Engineer Eric Johnston.

“The parks department is spread thinner and thinner,” he said.

Trail maintenance is expected to cost approximately $5,000 each year, including pathway upkeep, trash collection and disposal, Johnston said. City officials plan to cover maintenance costs with money from the city’s general fund.

The existing pathway was labeled “unimproved roadway” on a bird’s-eye-view image of the harbor, and will require some upgrades, such as the pothole repair and the addition of gravel, before it can open to the public.

The project, including road striping on Catalina Drive to direct trail-users, pathway upgrades and signs, is expected to cost about $15,000. The project cost was not included in the 2009 budget, but there’s funding available, Johnston said.

City officials will draw money from the “paths and trails fund,” which is partially made up of money generated from gas-tax revenues. This fund supported other waterfront trail improvement projects in the past.

Despite his positive vote, Councilman Danny Paggao was uneasy about the agreement’s two-year limit.

“Time goes fast and two years is rather short,” he said. “What then?”

Councilman Bob Severns also showed signs of trepidation over the contract length.

“I guess anything is better than nothing, but I do share Councilman Paggao’s concern over the two-year contract,” he said.

Johnston said it’s up to the Navy, but that they’re likely to renew the agreement.

“The Navy dictated the agreement,” he said, “and that’s for two years.”

If and when the contract is renewed, city officials may work on a long-term vision for the trail, including a paved pathway. But for now, they’re focused on the short term.

“This is an initial step to get the agreement with the Navy, get the gate open and get people out there,” Johnston said.

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