Photo by Brandon Taylor/Whidbey News-Times Harbormaster Chris Sublet is working to improve the Oak Harbor Marina and hopes to raise chinook salmon in pens.

Photo by Brandon Taylor/Whidbey News-Times Harbormaster Chris Sublet is working to improve the Oak Harbor Marina and hopes to raise chinook salmon in pens.

City looks at raising marina revenue

Efforts are underway to breathe new life into the Oak Harbor Marina.

Oak Harbor is looking to bring more business to the harbor by purchasing the Mariner’s Haven boatyard, and is considering bringing back salmon rearing pens.

The city has received a $400,000 grant from the state Commerce Department to purchase the boatyard and the city is seeking an additional $630,000 in the form of an Island County Rural Economic Community Development grant.

There are a few hurdles that need to be cleared before the property can be purchased. The city needs to hire an environmental specialist to conduct a site study and a business consultant to help develop a viable business plan for the expansion.

“The city has a pretty strong desire to have a better understanding of the property,” Mayor Bob Severns said. “If we’re going to take over the lease it makes sense to do a thorough study.”

Because the bottoms of boats used to have lead paint, the soil will likely need to be tested, Harbormaster Chris Sublet said.

The environmental specialist is expected to cost about $46,000 and the business consultant is expected to cost $20,000.

There are three business ideas the city is considering. In the first, the city would operate the boatyard for boat storage and maintenance. In the second, the city would lease the land out to a private company for marina related businesses and, the third option the city is considering would be to offer the land to schools for educational purposes.

“At the very least we will have more space for dry storage,” Severns said.

Regardless, the new operation would have to sustain itself. “The marina is an enterprise fund,” Severns said, “it must support itself.”

While there is no timeline for when the purchase will be completed, Severns expects something to happen in the next few months, he said.

Sublet is also hoping to raise 30,000 chinook salmon by bringing pens back to the marina.

The plan is in its very early stages but if it proceeds, he hopes to have it ready to receive chinook salmon in October so they could be released by the following Memorial Day.

The pens could be used as an outdoor classroom and potentially bring more fishing-related business to the harbor, he said.

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