Where’s the bad beef?

Seen as boost for marina

A bill that passed the state Senate and is currently being considered in the House of Representatives was tailor made by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen to save Oak Harbor’s marina more than $500,000 over the next decade.

It’s money that would be used to help fix up the aging marina, which badly needs new water and power systems, dredging and new docks.

“This would really help us a lot,” Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik said. “It would allow us to bond for extra money.”

Slowik and City Administrator Paul Schmidt spoke to the House Ecology and Parks Committee Wednesday in favor of the bill that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to enter into aquatic lands management agreements with the city under the same regulations it uses to lease lands to port districts.

As one of the few cities in the state that runs a marina, Oak Harbor has to pay a $58,035 annual fee to the DNR for tideland rentals at the marina. Port districts, which run most marinas in the state, don’t have to pay the water-dependent part of the fee, which is the bulk of the cost.

If Oak Harbor is treated as a port district, the city would save just over $50,000 a year.

In the Senate, Haugen sponsored the bill that eventually passed unanimously after she, Slowik and Schmidt spoke before a Senate committee Jan. 31.

Slowik explained that the original bill, which applied to a few marinas in the state, initially was opposed by the DNR. Haugen negotiated with department officials and changed the bill so that it only applies to Oak Harbor.

“The DNR doesn’t oppose it anymore,” Slowik said. “They like the idea that it will be used to upgrade the infrastructure of the marina.”

The tideland lease fee began skyrocketing in 1993, when it cost only $7,800. City officials have long worked with the state lawmakers to get the fee decreased; they even got the bill to the governor’s desk, only to have it vetoed because of protests from the DNR.

“This is a great economic development opportunity for Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island,” said Haugen. “A simple step like this will help them develop their marina into one that will increase business by attracting recreational boaters to their harbor and tourists into their town.”

Still, the $500,000 savings would only be a drop in the bucket when it comes to implementing the $19 million master plan for the marina.

Slowik said the city is currently in the process of developing a cost estimate for the first phase, which includes dredging in critical areas, constructing a new main walkway with new utilities, building an F dock and replacing existing docks.

In the end, Slowik said the first phase may also be broken into phases.

More in News

Chris Stack and Samantha Soule film a scene of their movie, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue," on the Coupeville wharf June 14. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Indie crew films movie on Whidbey

Island becomes backup after Michigan locale falls through.

More federal relief money than expected headed to Whidbey

Whidbey Island will soon receive millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan funding.

Oak Harbor Public School photo - group
Oak Harbor top 10 reveal their plans post-high school

Oak Harbor High School seniors graduate on June 19.

Clockwise from top left: Drake Borden, Mollie Bailey, Marissa Malinowski, Owen Barenburg, Catherine Lhamon. (Photos provided)
Coupeville High School recognizes top five graduates

Coupeville High School’s top five seniors didn’t let a difficult pandemic year hold them back.

Photo courtesy America's Boating Club of Deception Pass
Inquiring minds hoping to nab that crab will have two opportunities to learn the tips and tricks of the trade this month before the recreational season opens July 1.
Boating Club holding free seminar on crabbing

Crabbers have two chances this month to learn tips and tricks before the season opens on July 1.

map
WhidbeyHealth lists vacant property for $727,500

WhidbeyHealth has listed a 4.56 acre vacant property for sale on the real estate website Zillow.

Annie Philp, center, leads student counter-protesters. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Students counter a protest against social justice education

Hundreds of demonstrators lined the street in front of South Whidbey High School Friday afternoon.

A banner celebrating the South Whidbey High School class of 2021 was vandalized, and the Black Lives Matter banner next to it was stolen. (Photo provided by Josephine Moccia)
Black Lives Matter sign stolen from in front of school

A banner celebrating 2021 graduates was also left vandalized.

Port gets $100K grant to improve broadband

Island County commissioners voted last week to approve Port of Coupeville’s application for funding.

Most Read