Port’s shore connection catches negative feedback

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POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo cast its nets in hopes of reeling in community feedback Thursday night, detailing for a crowd of about 15 preliminary plans for a shore connection to Net Shed Vista, a .84-acre park along Fjord Drive.

The addition would span more than 200 feet and stem from a new floating breakwater set to be installed as part of the port’s 15.8-acre harbor line expansion, allowing non-boaters access to the bay as well as providing a pedestrian path from the new floating dock to shore.

Port manager Kirk Stickels said designs for the project are still in beginning stages and the process could take time, as engineering tests have not yet been conducted and permitting often take up to three years.

This was the second of three outreach meetings held by the port in an effort to hear from members of the community, and hear from them they did.

The overwhelming consensus was an unwelcoming one as several neighbors of the park expressed concerns regarding the shore connection, as well as the notifications the port gave for the meeting itself.

“This should be for the city of Poulsbo, not for the tourists that come,” said resident Gene Fullerton. He, along with many at the meeting, argued the shore connection would cater to out-of-towners visiting on large leisure ships and in turn take up the city’s last piece of undeveloped beach property. The park currently holds just picnic tables and benches.

“Many generations have enjoyed the use of that park,” he said. “That’s it. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”

The port’s expansion was given the go-ahead from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in June, and has hired a grant writer to help secure more funding. Stickels said a port district’s mandate is to grow and develop, and take advantage of economically beneficial opportunities.

Resident Ed Couch said Net Shed Vista provides a poor passenger unloading area, as Fjord Drive’s sidewalk sits on the east side of the street, causing the need for pedestrians to cross the busy thoroughfare. He said it’s a danger, as well as a devaluation on area properties.

“I want to know where the thought of the community is involved and not the commercial aspect,” he said.

The length of the ramp itself would be a substantial walk, another worry many expressed.

Stickels said the port would ensure it was up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“The Net Shed park being a public park already, we looked to that to see if it would be feasible,” he said. “The raamp itself would be quite lengthy, there’s no question about it.”

Though the shore connection is not necessary for the port’s expansion, it would allow more of its funding to be kept local. If the city allowed the port control of Net Shed Vista, payments normally made to the DNR would instead be split between the two local entities.

Port Commissioner Tony DeCarlo said the port is already able to divide $19,000 a year between it and the city because Poulsbo allows it control of the Waterfront Park area. That money would normally be given to the DNR.

DeCarlo said the port had also considered connecting the new floating breakwater with D Dock in the Poulsbo Marina, providing better passenger access to the downtown area. However, that would block in larger ships needing to leave at low tides.

“Our thought in putting this thing together was to make it available for everyone who lives in the city to get onto the water,” said Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Arnold Bockus.

Fullerton said the park should be left out of the port’s expansion plans, and even called on a petition signed by 144 in 1984 for the preservation of the area for resident recreation.

“Years ago we had the run of the beaches here,” he said. “In ‘84 we did get involved and I hope that the foresight those citizens had… was not for naught.”

The port will hold another community outreach meeting, though the date has yet to be determined. Stickels admitted notification for the previous two meetings did hit glitches, as the port had incomplete information on who needed to be informed. Notification for the next meeting will be thorough, he said.

Studies as to how the shore connection will affect bay health and marine life have yet to be conducted.

All comments made will be brought back to the Poulsbo City Council for determination on the project.

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