Port of Poulsbo looks to acquire free Elliott Bay Marina dock

Agreement between the port and marina in the process of being drafted

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo will be receiving a large section of dock from the Elliott Bay Marina free of charge if all goes according to plan.

A draft agreement came before Poulsbo’s port commission July 5, and it has yet to be signed by either party.

The port is hoping to use the 924 linear feet of dock as a replacement for the aged creosote piling breakwater surrounding the downtown marina. According to the draft agreement, the port would pay for the transportation costs of the dock. Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Jonothan Saunders said the draft agreement was nearly ready for signing.

“We’ve got some caveats there to protect us so we don’t get stuck with these docks if we cannot use them,” Saunders said. “It’s a great deal, and I think it’ll work out.”

Saunders estimated that if everything goes according to plan, the agreement could be signed in the next 30 days.

“Our schedule would be that we receive [the docks] late in the fall of 2019 and then our construction wouldn’t start for a little while after that,” Saunders added.

Dwight Jones, general manager at the Elliott Bay Marina, said he saw the conveyance as an opportunity for the port to get a great deal. Jones said the dock is being replaced now because a wave fence attached to it has reached the end of its life expectancy. The wooden wave fence, Jones explained, was a necessity after a wave study incorrectly found the dock to be sufficient for the waves experienced at the Elliott Bay Marina.

“When they did the wave study, they were inaccurate,” Jones said. “Our waves are bigger than what it was designed for, so we retrofitted it with this wave fence. The wave fence was designed to last about 16 to 18 years, and it’s lasted about 24 years. The reason it will work well in Poulsbo is because the wave that it was designed for is smaller in Poulsbo than the dock was designed for.”

Jones explained that instead of building a new fence that would last another couple of decades, the marina is opting to completely rebuild their dock with a more robust design to counter the larger waves experienced from nearby commercial vessel traffic.

“There’s a lot of commercial traffic here on Elliott Bay, and that wave period is very different than a wind fetch that you would get in Liberty Bay,” Jones said. “I think there’s at least 30 to 40 years left in that dock. It’s in good shape.

“In Poulsbo, in the kind of wind conditions and the use you’re going to get there, it is not a stressful environment,” he added. “It was a top-of-the-line dock 27 years ago when it was built, it’s 12 feet wide, it’s big, 4 to 6 feet deep. It’s a solid structure. I don’t want to replace it, believe me.”

While he said that the port was getting a great deal out of the Elliott Bay Marina’s replacement of N-Dock, Jones said the reason why he wasn’t looking to sell the dock was because there would likely be a small pool of buyers. Jones cited the need for permits and construction plans ahead of the conveyance, as well as significant transportation costs.

“There’s going to be a cost to the port to tow it over there. They’re going to have to put pilings in. There’s a certain amount of engineering,” he said. “The port is going to incur some costs, granted, much less than building a new dock. To us, our savings is the fact that we’re getting it off our hands and it’s going to a good home. It will be a great addition to the port.”

—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com.

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