South Whidbey port gets $500k grant for parking lot

Curt Gordon’s decade-long mission to build a parking lot is finally getting somewhere.

State lawmakers included a $500,000 appropriation in the capital budget for the Port of South Whidbey to help build a parking area on property owned by the Tulalip Tribes in Mukilteo.

Gordon, a port commissioner, has bent every ear he could find over the last 10 years or so to get a new parking lot built near the ferry dock on the Mukilteo side.

Gordon said he wants to provide overnight parking for visitors who prefer to walk on the ferry, then catch a bus or have someone pick them up on the Whidbey Island side.

The project is estimated to cost $2 million.

The need is clear. The port, along with Island County and Sound Transit, funded a study by the city of Mukilteo that found there’s a shortage of 518 parking stalls in the city’s waterfront area.

Gordon explained that the Tulalip Tribes ownsabout three acres near the ferry dock that used to be part of the former Air Force tank farm. He said the Tulalip Tribes agreed to allow the port to convert the property into a parking lot.

A substantial number of the stalls, about 100, will be earmarked for Whidbey Island visitors, he said.

In January, Gordon, Port Commissioner Jack Ng and representatives from Tulalip Tribes met with state representatives and senators in Olympia to persuade them to fund the project.

State Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, championed the effort to get the appropriation.

The port asked for $130,000 for preliminary work and got $500,000.

“It’s a critical issue for the economic viability of South Whidbey,” Smith said.

The parking lot will encourage ferry walk-ons and help shorten the lines to the ferry, Gordon said.

Gordon said he and Smith both pointed out that State Ferries encourages pedestrian traffic on the ferry, but doesn’t provide the necessary parking, which Gordon said is “like dropping the ball.”

The next step, Gordon said, is for the port to submit an application for a state Regional Mobility Grant to fully fund construction of the lot.

“I hope that this puts us in a really good position going into this grant application,” he said.

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