By Charlie Bermant, January 8, 2014, Peninsula Daily News
Repair of the aging Point Hudson breakwater is “the No. 1 priority for us,” Port of Port Townsend Director Larry Crockett told commissioners Wednesday.
Crockett briefed the newly reconfigured Port of Port Townsend Board of Commissioners on projects for the coming year.
Along with the breakwater, Crockett talked of boat ramp expansion, a new airport weather information system, improving communication and the disposition of its Quilcene property.
Newly elected Commissioner Pete Hanke said he wasn’t intimidated by the workload.
“We knew what was coming,” he said.
Hanke defeated incumbent Commissioner Leif Erickson in the November general election.
Brad Clinefelter, who was running for an open seat, is the other new commissioner.
Steve Tucker, who was elected in 2011, was elected chairman.
No cost estimate is available for the repair of the breakwater, Crockett said.
The next step will be to request engineering services, which will provide an idea of what it will take to fix the structure.
Design and permitting construction could begin in late 2015 or early 2016, Crockett said.
Crockett said the port needs to develop a strategy for the disposition of its Quilcene property, which includes several boat ramps.
He recommended that the public be informed of a plan and be given the opportunity to comment.
“We could go down there and hold a public meeting. One hundred people would show up, and there would be 110 opinions,” Crockett said.
“We need to come up with alternatives for the property and present them so we have something to talk about.”
Crockett said there were two extremes the port could pursue: to pull out of Quilcene and sell its property or build an aggressive economic development profile.
His preference would be to study marina use, remove the boat ramps and build the ramps and parking needed to handle the projected traffic.
“There are a lot of different opinions between the new residents who are looking for development and the old-timers who just want to be left alone,” Crockett said.
“But we collect $302,000 in property tax revenues from Quilcene, and we can’t take that money and invest it in Port Townsend facilities.”
Boat Haven ramp
Expansion of ramp access in the Boat Haven is one of two immediate maintenance issues, Crockett said.
The ramp, built in 1995, allows only one boat at a time, leading to long lines of boaters entering and leaving the water.
The plan is to widen it to allow access to two boats at a time.
Cost is estimated at $561,463. Application for a grant that would provide three-fourths of the funds must be made by July 1 to the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
The next time grants would be available would be 2016.
Crockett said the county has a shortage of adequate boat ramps and that efforts to improve ramps in several locations have been unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, the county’s new shoreline management plan doesn’t recognize the need for more boat ramps,” Crockett said.
“So we need to make a more efficient use of what we have.”
Crockett briefed the commissioners on the installation of an Automated Weather Observing System, called AWOS, a $150,000 system to be installed at Jefferson County International Airport that would broadcast accurate weather data to planes seeking a landing point.
“The AWOS is a great safety aid,” said pilot Bill Putney.
“Pilots can get an accurate picture of conditions, and there will be fewer repeated landing attempts or missed landings, and a lot of pilots who are ‘in the soup’ and flying from Canada won’t land here because there is no information available,” Putney said.