Names considered for Keystone dock and ferry

A business group is hoping a new name for a ferry terminal will help tourists visiting Whidbey Island.

The Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce submitted a proposal this week to the Washington State Transportation Commission to change the name of the Keystone ferry dock to the Coupeville ferry dock.

“We thought it was logical,” said Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce.

She said that when people use “Keystone” to research Whidbey Island on the Internet, it yields too little information. Even though the terminal is located several miles west of town limits, the terminal still falls within Coupeville’s zip code and the town’s name will provide more recognition for people.

“Once they reach Coupeville, they would have all of Whidbey Island to enjoy,” Eccles said.

Chamber members have been busy gathering support for the name change in recent weeks. She submitted letters of support from chambers in Freeland and Oak Harbor; the cities of Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor; the Board of Island County Commissioners; Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve; and the Coupeville Festival Association. She added state representatives Barbara Bailey and Norma Smith and state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen support the change.

Reema Griffith, executive director for the Washington State Transportation Commission, said she’s heard about the effort to change the name of the Keystone terminal, but no paperwork has been submitted yet. Once the paperwork is submitted, the commission could consider the proposal as early as its mid-July meeting.

Eccles said it’s a perfect time to change the name of the ferry terminal considering the 64-car Chetzemoka, Washington State Ferries newest vessel, is set to start serving the Port Townsend-to-Keystone ferry route in late August. It will be the first time in nearly three years that a permanent ferry will operate on the route.

The name of the Central Whidbey terminal isn’t the only moniker the Transportation Commission could consider in July.

The Greenbank-based Orca Network proposed to name the second 64-car ferry the “Tokitae.” The name is one of five finalists under consideration by the Transportation Commission. Tokitae is a Coast Salish greeting meaning “Nice day, pretty colors.” It’s also the original name of Lolita, an orca captured in Penn Cove 40 years ago that is currently performing in a Miami sea park.

The other names under consideration are as follows:

• Salish, which refers to the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest and the geographical name of the inland sea comprising the Puget Sound, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Strait of Georgia.

• Colitz, which is a name of a tribe that provided assistance with pioneer transportation and commercial activity. Some historians refer to the “Cowlitz Corridor,” which linked the Columbia River valley with Puget Sound communities before the Washington Territory was established, according to information from the Washington State Transportation Commission.

• Kennewick, which has several native meanings including “winter paradise,” “winter haven,” “grassy place” and “grassy slope.”

• Samish, which is the name of a tribe whose historic area ranges from the San Juan Islands to the Cascade mountains.

Griffith said the Ferry Executive Advisory Committee recommended that the commission consider naming the ferry the Salish or the Samish.

The commission recently completed a rider survey which, among other things, asked riders their favorite two names for the ferry. Those surveyed chose the names Salish and Tokitae as their top choices.

She said those recommendations will also be forwarded to the Transportation Commission. She didn’t say how much weight the recommendations carry. The commission will use all information submitted to make a decision.

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