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FESTIVAL IS HERE! Get the lowdown in The Beachcomber’s Strawberry Festival insert.

THE SOUNDS OF FILM Movie composer invited to prestigious Sundance lab. Page 10



Vol. 57, No. 29 om

As more use water taxi, some are left behind County works to meet a growing demand on the boat By LESLIE BROWN

Fields project, dogged by delays, is stalled after funds dry By LESLIE BROWN

Staff Writer

Vashon’s water taxi continues to see an uptick in the number of passengers, resulting in more atcapacity sailings and presumably more riders left behind on the dock, according to the director of King County’s marine division. In the first six months of this year, the pedestrian-only boat — which takes passengers into downtown Seattle — had 96 atcapacity sailings, meaning all of its 150 seats were full, said Scott Davis, the division’s director. That’s nearly double the number from the first six months a year ago, when the route experienced 57 full boats. All told, it had 130 full boats in 2011 and 78 in 2010. Because of the route’s growing demand, King County officials are working to increase capacity on the Melissa Ann, the 77-foot catamaran that serves the Vashon-Seattle route. Capacity is limited to 150 passengers, even though it has room for more, due to U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations that require larger crews and other measures when a boat goes


Staff Writer

Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

On most days, the Melissa Ann is full of commuters. King County now hopes to increase its capacity by August. beyond that number. Officials had hoped to have met all the requirements to increase the capacity to 172 passengers at the beginning of this year. But the marine division’s staff is small, Davis said, and, in part because of post-9/11 security rules, the process is “fairly detailed.” Davis said he expects the marine division, a part of the county’s Department of Transportation,

will be able to increase capacity by the end of August. “It’s taken us longer than we had hoped,” he added. “There’s no single reason for that. … I would not blame the regulator (the Coast Guard) at all. We’re a fairly small staff doing a lot of different things.” Ridership on the boat, which zips to Seattle in about 22 minutes, has increased steadily since King

County took over the pedestrianonly route from Washington State Ferries in September 2009. The route carried just under 111,000 passengers in 2009, Davis said. Ridership grew to 153,600 in 2010; last year, it climbed to 167,600. So far this year, Davis said, ridership has been higher every month over the same period a year ago, with SEE WATER TAXI, 19

The Vashon Park District has suspended nearly all work at its fields’ complex north of town until it garners more money for the project from both user fees and fundraising efforts. “We’re holding off on spending anything more until we can raise the money to keep going,” said Jan Milligan, the park district’s executive director. The district has scheduled a fundraiser for Aug. 23 in an effort to reignite community interest in the $1.7 million project. Supporters also believe that once the partially completed complex is open to the public, possibly this fall, Islanders will step forward with a greater level of support. “We’re hoping that when we open up the facility in the fall and people are out there, there will be more community attention on the need to complete this thing,” said David Hackett, a park district commissioner and one of the project’s leading champions. But a partial fall opening is not guaranteed, in part because of the SEE FIELDS, 15

Stores asked to help curb teen drinking By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer

Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

A VARSA sticker is added under a warning to minors at Vashon Market.

On the Fourth of July, a teenage boy tried to buy beer at Vashon Market using a fake ID. The checker, however, was suspicious and alerted store management. “We caught that,” said Byron Cox, a manager at the grocery store. “And I told the young man, ‘Do not use your fake ID.’” Volunteers with the Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA) say it’s not too common for minors to obtain alco-

hol from stores or restaurants on Vashon — more often they get it from an older person. But in order to tackle teen alcohol use from every angle, they say, the nonprofit is asking Vashon retailers to partner with them to prevent teens from getting their hands on alcohol. Vashon Market is one of the first retailers to join the effort. “I think it’s something we need to watch out for as a community,” said Cox, who has given tips to the volunteers. “Everybody needs to

work on all sides to help the kids to understand you don’t need to drink, not until you’re of age.” Armed with a survey and a list of suggestions, VARSA volunteers will spend the summer asking business owners with a liquor license to take steps such as moving beer further from soda and candy, limiting the alcohol signs on display and retraining employees responsible for checking IDs. In addition to recommending changes at stores and SEE ALCOHOL, 18

Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, July 18, 2012