Orcas Landing Open for Business

Contributed photo Former SJC council member Alan Lichter of Orcas Island giving the thumbs up on the landing.

The County’s newly purchased public dock at Orcas Landing is welcoming boaters with 430 feet of moorage space available without charge for up to four hours during the day. According to Public Works director Jon Shannon, the facility will also offer a space for public meetings when renovations to the main building are completed this Spring.

The County closed on the property adjacent to the Orcas Ferry landing in December after more than two years of on and off negotiations between the County and the owners of what was then known as “Jacobson’s at Orcas Landing.” Throughout that time, former San Juan County Council Member Alan Lichter kept focus on the acquisition project, helped keep the negotiations alive and is given credit for their ultimate success.

The usefulness of the dock has quickly become apparent. Most frequently boats from Waldron and other non-ferry served islands tie up at the dock to connect with the ferry. Their passengers have just a 50 yard walk to the ferry.

The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office has awarded the County a $106,000 grant toward the $2.88 million purchase price and lease income from the main 4,000 square foot building on the site plus revenue from leases for several parking spaces across from the Orcas Hotel will total approximately $50,000 in 2009. Additional funding will come from the County Road Fund, which, “under state law” may be used for water transportation facilities. (The funds used to purchase the dock could not have legally been used for County Operating Expenses).

The County took ownership of Orcas Landing shortly before the winter storms hit, but it weathered them with no significant damage.

Public Works Director Shannon said the purchase furthers several of the County’s transportation goals, “This provides a linkage between the County Road, the marine highway and the ferry system – a goal of out previous planning efforts. It also provides a staging area for pedestrians and bicyclist using the Washington State Ferry system.”