PORT OF ILWACO - Closing part of the SR100 Loop road to vehicular traffic is among preliminary staff recommendations for the Fort Canby State Park Master Plan presented to the Port of Ilwaco Commission Monday by Daniel Farber, project manager for the plan.

Farber covered items in the plan that impact the port and said all the staff recommendations will be presented to the public at a meeting Monday, May 5, at the theater at Fort Columbia. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. "All the commissioners will be at the meeting so there will be an opportunity to talk directly to them," he said.

Addressing the options in the plan relating to the boat ramp at the park, Farber said the preliminary recommendations will call for adding a ramp to the two existing boat launches, providing more upland parking and making no provisions for tour boats to moor at the park.

The three master plan options for the boat launch included: Removing the boat ramps altogether and "restoring the upland and shoreline to more natural condition;" renovating the ramps to accommodate transient moorage, including tour boats; adding a bus turnaround area; and expanding in the current location with three ramps instead of two and improving the geometry of the launch.

Re-routing traffic to and from the park has been discussed at length recently in meetings with the public and local merchants since the March 26 meeting that outlined the three options for reconfiguring the park.

On Monday, Farber said the preliminary recommendation is to go with Option A which limits vehicle access to the park to the western SR 100 loop. The eastern leg of the loop, beyond the entrance to the Sahalee subdivision, would become a bicycle/pedestrian trail with access for emergency vehicles included in the design.

Re-routing traffic to the park could have big land-use implications for the city of Ilwaco, Farber said. "We want the merchants and the community to work with us so this will be an economic driver for the city and so residential areas will be protected.

"The biggest emphasis of the master plan is to create a bicycle-friendly park," Farber said, adding that the major motivator for that is the routing of the Discovery Trail into Beards Hollow. "People will want to go farther on the trail," he said. "That was the real driver for us."

A "gateway center" could be built in Ilwaco, according to the recommendations, that would provide a transit hub, parking, park maintenance headquarters and brochures about the area for people to pick up while waiting for a bus to the park.

Farber said camping registration and fee collection would likely be relocated to where the park store is now located. "We're still identifying where parking spaces are needed in that area," he said.

The beachfront camping area that is expected to disappear with the gradual erosion of Benson Beach was addressed in the recommendations.

"We want to keep 250 to 300 camp sites at the park," Farber said, including yurts, cabins and the lighthouse-keepers quarters vacation rentals. "We expect the erosion to occur," he said, "and we'll build new camp sites, yurts and cabins so we can continue to have up to 300 sites."

Vehicle access to the camp sites will be changed, according to the recommendations, with the existing road turned into a paved multi-use trail beyond the proposed Lewis and Clark interpretive area at McKenzie Head. A new two-way road to the camp sites would be built farther out the North Jetty Road.

Camp sites at Lake O'Neil would be removed and more cabins built to recreate the historical ambiance of the area. Kayak and canoe rentals could be available at the lake.

The proposed master plan would culminate in a "major manipulation" of the park, Farber said. "We got a lot of testimony (after the March 26 meeting) that would indicate that loss of beachfront camping would negatively impact the local economy. We have to figure out a way to have as many camping sites as possible."

Farber said the U.S. Coast Guard has told Parks it doesn't want to be responsible for managing Dead Man Cove and the Cape Disappointment and North Head lighthouses for public access, so the three locations would be managed by Parks.

Port Manager Mack Funk asked Farber what would happen to the park should the Fort Clatsop National Memorial Expansion Act, now being studied by the National Park Service, become a reality.

Preliminary recommendations by Parks staff envision a National Jefferson Memorial at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Farber said.

"Since three-quarters of the park is federally owned [by Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers], we will work with the federal government if NPS should become our landlord," he said. "We're not in favor of eliminating Fort Canby as a state park."

He added that State Parks commissioners "have gone on record we would manage Station Camp as a state park and transfer it to NPS should the expansion act become a reality." Negotiations with the owners of the Station Camp area for expanding the historic site are "looking good," he said.

"We're glad to hear State Parks is planning to add a new boat ramp at the park," Funk said of Farber's presentation. "The parks planning staff appears to be listening to local input."

Other business covered during the commission meeting Monday included the following:

• Funk announced that, as in past years, port commission meetings will be held at 4 p.m. rather than 10 a.m. during the summer months, beginning with the May 19 meeting.

• The irrigation system is installed adjacent to Waterfront Way at the port and sod will be placed over it. Improvements to Waterfront Way are part of the First and Howerton project. He also announced that paving was to begin Tuesday on First Street from the Englund Marine building to the traffic light in Ilwaco.

• The port has purchased 10 of 30 bollard lights planned for Waterfront Way and letters will be sent to people interested in purchasing the lights with memorial plaques attached to them as a remembrance of deceased friends or relatives. Cost of each light is $1,200.

• Port Financial Officer Mary DeLong reported that construction of the new restrooms planned at the port near the ShoreBank building could begin this week.

• Funk said all buildings at the port need clearly visible and consistent address numbers so emergency responders can locate them.

• DeLong said during the first quarter of 2003, port revenues are slightly above last year's.

Public Workshop

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has scheduled a public workshop discussion of a preliminary staff recommended master plan for Fort Canby State Park Monday, May 5, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The meeting will be at the theater at Fort Columbia State Park.

The seven-member commission that governs the state agency will be on hand to listen to public testimonyand ask for clarifying information. No commission action will be taken atthe workshop. The public is encouraged to join in the effort to set the future direction for the park.

Anyone interested in getting a copy of the preliminary recommendation in advance, having any questions about the project, or wishing to provide comments should contact Daniel Farber, the master plan project manager at: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650, (360) 902-8610, daniel.farber@parks.wa.gov.

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