Whidbey Examiner, January 16, 2014
January 16, 2014 edition of the Whidbey Examiner
50 ¢ THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2014 VOL. 19, NO. 24 Navy EIS comment period extended By Janis Reid Staff Reporter In response to a number of requests, the Navy is extending the scoping period for the Environmental Impact Statement on the EA-18G Growlers. Comments are now being accepted until Friday, Jan. 31. Purpose of the extension is “to ensure all surrounding communities have ample opportunity to provide input,” Navy officials said in a prepared news release. Recently, the Navy was criticized by the City of Port Townsend and San Juan County. David King, the mayor of Port Townsend, said he and the city council complained that they were not notified about the EIS process or offered a public scoping meeting. Public meetings were held during December in Coupeville, Oak Harbor and Anacortes. The scoping period began Sept. 5, with the original deadline for closing it set for Jan. 3. King described the Navy’s new Growlers, which are replacing the EA-6B Prowlers, as “pretty loud” and “very much noticed” by Port Townsend residents. Though saying the Navy originally overlooked Port Townsend in the scoping process, King said he is encouraged that the Navy extended the scoping period. “It seems like, in asking for it, we were able to get it,” King said. Port Townsend’s city council also asked for an additional public scoping meeting, King said, which the Navy does not appear to be offering at this time. Still, King said, the Navy’s response was “a step in that direction” and he remains hopeful that Port Townsend will continue to be included as the EIS progresses. An additional opportunity for public input will held after the EIS statement is written and a draft version is made public in 2015. It doesn’t seem likely that Port Townsend’s city council would be taking a formal position on the Growler, King said, but added members believe it is important See EIS, page 12 Nathan Whaln photo Tim McDonald, executive director for Port of Coupeville, and other officials for port closed a Front Street public beach access due to safety concerns with the stairs leading down to the water. Port closes beach access by wharf By Nathan Whalen Staff Reporter Due to safety concerns, leaders for the Port of Coupeville chained off a Front Street entry point to the beach. The stairs near the port office by Coupeville Wharf were recently blocked. People can still walk down to the beach by using the Front Street deck, located next to the Knead and Feed. “The stairway is falling apart and it’s not safe to go down there,” said Tim McDonald, executive director for Port of Coupeville. He added parts of the concrete stairs have broken, the sand underneath is washing away and there’s nothing anchoring the stairs. There is also a large piece of wood blocking the stairs and hampering people’s access to the shore. Port officials said they noticed the state of the stairs last month. A chain currently blocks the entry at the top and bottom of the stairs while officials figure out how to address the issues. The access is just the latest maintenance problem to arise for a public entity that owns two 100-year-old facilities — the Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm. “Basically we have more maintenance than we can handle,” Port Commissioner Mar- shall Bronson said during last week’s monthly meeting. The Port of Coupeville recently received a rural development fund grant that will provide up to $70,000 to pay for new fuel floats at the Coupeville Wharf. The current concrete floats are prone to breaking away from the Wharf during severe weather. The fuel float project is currently going through the permitting process through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Departments of Ecology, Natural Resources andFish and Wildlife. Also the sewer system at the Greenbank Farm needs to be redesigned and officials are working to meet requirements set by the state Department of Health. Officials have to hire a professional engineer to design the new system and they have to find someone to manage the system since the former manager is no longer available. The current sewage system was installed by Greenbank Farm’s previous owner, Chateau Ste. Michelle. When it was installed, it was designed to handle special events. However, with the addition of a restaurant and a food production facility, the current system isn’t able to handle the load. Port officials are also busy developing an updated list of construction, repair and maintenance projects. It will be up to the commissioners for the Port of Coupeville to come up with a priority list. Leaders have currently budgeted to spend $70,464 in construction, repair and maintenance in 2014. The small port district received $335,000 in Conservation Futures Funds in 2013 for a conservation easement placed on the agriculture, recreational and environmentally sensitive lands at Greenbank Farm. Officials have yet to decide how to use that additional funding.