Rent savings will benefit Oak Harbor marina

OAK HARBOR — A plan to upgrade the Oak Harbor Marina was recently given a boost by a new state law designed to help cities manage public marinas.

For the next decade, the city of Oak Harbor can use the $50,000 it would have spent on rent each year to help pay for new boat slips, walkways and other improvements planned for its publicly owned marina.

“This will help us toward that goal of replacing, rebuilding our marina,” said Mack Funk, the Oak Harbor Marina’s harbor master.

Before Senate Bill 6532 was approved, cities had to lease shoreline land from the state Department of Natural Resources. Now, instead of charging rent, the state can enter into aquatic-lands- management agreements with cities, just as the state does with port-owned marinas.

State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, who sponsored the bill, said the rent payments made it difficult for the city to improve its marina.

“This relieves them of the lease so they could in turn invest the revenue toward upgrading the facility,” Haugen said.

The city plans on spending about $19.5 million to upgrade the marina over the next several years.

The first phase of construction, estimated to cost up to $4 million, is scheduled to begin in July 2009 and last six months. The first phase is planned to include the construction of larger boat slips and a new main walkway that would hold electrical utilities. Construction is also expected to improve accessibility at the marina for people with disabilities, Funk said.

The marina is expected to grow by 78 boat slips by the time the entire project is finished.

“That’s the general focus of our marina rebuild, is to construct larger slips,” Funk said. “During the summer, all of our slips fill up, but there’s a large demand for slips that are 30 feet or larger.

“We hope to gain income from the new slips,” he said.

The Oak Harbor Marina is Whidbey Island’s only marina, Haugen said. It has lots of room for growth.

“There really was no place where true boaters would feel comfortable leaving their boats,” Haugen said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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