City Considers Funding Study Needed for Boatyard to Lease Space at Whidbey Island

The Oak Harbor, Wash., City Council is considering paying for a feasibility study needed to convince the Navy to lease unused waterfront property at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station to a boat builder seeking to expand its operations.

An expansion by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders could add 100 high-paying jobs to the city, but negotiations among the city, the Navy and Nichols had reached a standstill, reported the Whidbey News Times. In an effort to break the stalemate, the city council has directed staff to develop a scope of work for a feasibility study that would cost an estimated $40,000.

The city determined that paying for a study that only looked at the prospect for Nichols to lease space at the seaplane base would be illegal, but a broader study assessing the base’s economic development potential would be allowed.

Regardless of the study’s outcome, the Navy still would need to be convinced that leasing the property is in its best interest, according to the story. The Navy likely would only lease the site through an enhanced use lease, meaning Nichols would have to win a competition before locating there. The Whidbey Island site, located between Seattle and the Canadian border, would offer the builder access to deep water to pursue contracts for larger boat manufacturing projects such as a 144-car ferry.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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