Cautious optimism, it appeared, was the mood inside the Greater Hansville Community Center during a recent meeting between the Kitsap County Parks Department and Hansville residents. The topic of discussion during Tuesday’s meeting: the possibility of constructing a new, 230-foot-long fishing pier at Norwegian Point Park.
The park property, acquired by the county in 2005, originally had a pier which served the local mosquito fleet and swarms of anglers who once flocked to Hansville for its fishing resorts.
“It’s been a fishing resort for almost a century,” said Ric Catron of the Kitsap County Parks Department. “This whole area was very popular in the ’20s and ’30s. Hansville alone had four different fishing resorts.”
Eventually, as the numbers of Chinook salmon began to dwindle, so too did tourism to the area. Today, Catron said, a few of the only remaining vestiges of Hansville’s history as a resort town, reside at Norwegian Point Park: an old boathouse and several small cabins. Another boathouse, which once served the Erickson Resort, also continues to stand sentinel over Hansville’s shore.
A moment of humor arose while Catron was relaying Hansville’s history to the audience — which contained at least a few members who had actually lived it — when he mispronounced the name of the nearby community of Eglon. A resounding correction came from the audience, prompting a jovial mea culpa from Catron.
Also at the meeting were Carl McNabb and Jon Keiser with the group PND Engineers. McNabb and Keiser offered the audience some early conceptual renderings of the proposed pier and also discussed elements of a recent feasibility study. According to McNabb a couple features of the Norwegian Point Park property bode well for the construction of the pier.
“One of the important features of the site is that Kitsap County parks actually owns the second-class tidelands,” McNabb said. The tidelands, he explained, are defined as the land between mean tide and extreme low tide, “which is very favorable for this project.”
Soil samples, McNabb said, also seemed to indicate a prime location for siting the pier. “We confirmed that the soil in this area is sand, and very dense sand. It goes down at least 60 feet with no boulders, no clay layers … Which is very favorable for installing pilings.”
A Q&A period followed the presentation, during which audience members offered the organizers questions and comments on a variety of topics related to the pier, ranging from adequate lighting for squid fishermen, to rail height for children. But one question seemed to come up repeatedly and that was the question of approval from the local tribes.
In order for the project to move forward to construction, it must first receive permit approval from both federal (the US Army Corps of Engineers) and state regulatory authorities. In assessing permit applications, the Army Corps of Engineers takes into consideration any possible effects to treaty rights that could be felt by the local fisheries co-managers — in this case, the Port Gamble S’Klallam and the Suquamish Tribes.
A previous project by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, which sought to construct a boat ramp near Point No Point, has become stalled in recent years due to the state’s inability to receive the nod of approval from the Suquamish tribe.
Despite this fact, Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder and organizers with the project remained hopeful for an agreeable outcome for all parties.
“We will proactively have a conversation with both tribes to make sure that we can mitigate any concerns that they might have,” Gelder said. “I think some of the concerns on the Point No Point boat launch was that it was a little bit backward, which I think has led to some of the logjam.”
Kitsap County Parks Director Jim Dunwiddie said at the meeting that representatives from both tribes had already been briefed on the project ahead of the community meeting.
“We had a government to government meeting last Thursday, just a brief overview of the project,” Dunwiddie said. “It was pretty favorable.”
When asked about the stalled boat ramp project the director said, “I’m just glad it’s not my project.”
If the pier is ultimately unable to move forward amid negotiations, Dunwiddie said funds appropriated for the project could just be used for upland improvements at the park as well. “This is one of the focal points of a comprehensive plan for this entire area. If it works out, we have something to build around, if it doesn’t work out, we can still do something with the park.”
Whit Mcleod, is the owner of the Hansgrill, a restaurant and grocery store adjacent to Norwegian Point Park. Mcleod said the prospect of a new attraction to the area was certainly one he could get behind.
“I think it’s a great idea, if they can get it going, if they can get approval from everybody,” Mcleod said. “I think it would be great for the community.