Bid to build pedestrian park at Orcas Landing accepted

With several major enhancements completed at the Orcas Ferry Landing in the last year, the county has accepted a bid for the next project: a waterfront park.

San Juan County Public Works announced in a newsletter dated July 31 that Mike Carlson Enterprises, Inc., of Friday Harbor, was awarded the contract for the construction of the Orcas Landing Marine Facility Improvements, which includes converting land that once housed the fuel tanks for ferries into a park. The area is located above the public docks and next to the new terminal.

Public Works was granted a $50,000 Lodging Tax Advisory Committee grant in 2016 to make the land into a usable space. The county will remove an existing wooden surface and replace it with brick pavers, making the space – which is currently prohibited to the public – an outdoor event venue and location to wait for a ferry.

Access to the future park requires building a new pedestrian facility, including finishing a gravity block retaining wall that was begun in the terminal remodel; a concrete ADA-compliant ramp and handrails; a concrete driveway; relocation of utilities; removal of structures and obstructions; clearing; grading; rock excavation; and other work. The total estimated cost for the project is between $250,000 and $300,000 and should be completed in 40 days, according to the newsletter. Construction begins in September.

The San Juan County Marine Resource Committee also secured a $6,200 LTAC grant in 2016 that will allow the committee to install what it calls the “Orcas Landing Experience.” The area will include signage and the potential for virtual reality interactivity in the future.

Washington State Ferries completed a remodel of the terminal at Orcas Landing that officially opened in July 2017. That project was followed by the county’s leasing property uphill from the ferry lanes to convert into a park-and-ride.

“It looks like one giant project, but it’s really a combination of six projects that just all happened to be good timing to do them all together so the area’s only torn up once,” said County Councilman Jamie Stephens during a the park-and-ride grand opening in October 2017.