Workers test for contamination on the abandoned Illahee Store property. Jim Aho/Contributed

Port of Illahee hopes to acquire abandoned property

ILLAHEE — The Port of Illahee is moving closer to acquiring the abandoned store at 5507 Illahee Road near the Illahee dock.

If successful, the port district hopes to turn it into a community center and additional parking for the dock.

“Maybe with a coffee shop or small convenience store,” Port Commissioner James Aho said.

The store was abandoned “many, many years ago” following the death of one of the owners, Aho said. In the years since, fines and liens have piled up to the point that it was virtually unsellable as a new owner would be responsible for those costs, Aho said.

The property in question is also a registered contaminated site with the Department of Ecology, because of past leakage from underground petroleum tanks.

A year ago, the port amended its comprehensive plan to include the possible purchase of the property, dependent on securing a clear title and coming up with a Department of Ecology-approved plan for the cleanup of the underground storage tanks.

Because of all of the fines and liens, “the only way [to secure a clear title] is to go through a sheriff’s sale,” Aho said.

At the port’s May 10 meeting, the port’s attorney, Ken Bagwell, reported that the sheriff’s sale of the property will take place in the near future — possibly as soon as six weeks — at which time the port could submit a bid.

According to port officials, funds are normally available to ports for cleanup efforts, which makes purchasing the property more attractive. In fact, Aho said, commissioners are meeting with the state about the possibilities of a cleanup grant/loan on June 6.

Over the years since it was abandoned, the building and grounds fell into serious disrepair. Thieves stole the air conditionng unit, resulting in a big hole in the roof. The interior has water damage. Blackberries overran the property.

Today, the port has gained access to the building, installed new locks and is helping maintain the property to reduce further decay. Volunteer Mark Moshay cut down all of the blackberries, Aho said.

“You don’t want to do too much until you own it,” he said.

The Port of Illahee presently owns the dock and adjacent house at 5500 Illahee Road and a rental property at 5560 Ocean View Blvd., according to its website.

The port uses the house by the dock for its monthly port meetings. But the grade down to the house is so steep that it is not ADA-compliant, Aho said.

Should the port acquire and remodel the store property, they would make certain it was ADA compliant so the commission can meet there, he said.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for the Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.