Second Washington State Parks public meeting scheduled for Aug. 31 in Westport

Representatives from Washington State Parks have scheduled a second public meeting in Westport to talk about potential Recreation Area land classification changes that would allow some forms of Recreational Business Activity (RBA) in the newly combined Westhaven State Park at the South Jetty and Westport Light State Park at the foot of W. Ocean Avenue in front of the Grays Harbor Light Station.

The two parks were joined late last year when Washington State Parks completed the purchase of the former 270-acre Links at Half Moon Bay golf course development property that was bordered by Westhaven State Park to the north, Westport Light State Park to the south and the Seashore Conservation Area to the west.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. in McCausland Hall on the Westport Maritime Museum campus.

State Parks Planner Nikki Fields, along with State Parks Real Estate Specialist Steve Hahn, first presented information about the new proposed land classifications and the potential for RBAs in the parks at a meeting held in late March. Following their presentation, those in attendance expressed their concerns in both oral and written forms on the following categories:

RBA location, real estate policy, development restrictions and other issues, which included but were not limited to: Cost versus gain to state by establishing RBAs, budget increases to oversee program, consideration for local entrepreneurs, desire for not RBAs, climate change and sea level rise concerns and the desire for a modern camping and/or ORV park close to Marina District business.

Wetlands Issues

The original intent was for comments collected at that meeting to be presented at the State Parks Commission meeting scheduled for March 31.

However, according to Fields, “Essentially, after our last meeting we confirmed that much of the land currently classified Recreation Area — areas for higher-intensity development — in the park is not suitable for higher-intensity recreational developments due to wetlands.”

At this second meeting on Aug. 31, the new proposed reduced Recreation Area boundaries within the park will be explained and additional public comment will be sought regarding allowing RBAs in those areas.

New Park name

Now that the two parks have been combined, State Parks staff also has been tasked with proposing a new name for the combined properties the commission is expected to adopt at its September meeting, as well.

At its September meeting, the Commission is expected to consider changing the land classifications to reduce the overall size of the recreation areas in the park, while also adding some recreation areas where development is more feasible. Staff will also ask the Commission to consider allowing Recreation Business Activities in the recreation areas.

If the land classification changes and allowance of RBAs is adopted at that meeting, the next steps in the commission’s decision-making process will include selecting sites to propose for RBA designation, conducting SEPA environmental reviews on those locations, and a commission decision regarding sites available for recreational business activity.

In the following months, State Parks would then issue Requests for Proposals at those sites, followed by possible public meetings/outreach. SEPA reviews would then be done on specific development proposals, followed by a Commission decision on specific leases and or concessions at approved sites.