Words from the Waterfront: What’s new with the commission?

  • Friday, April 13, 2018 9:51am
  • News

An interesting fact: most of the docks in the Port of Poulsbo marina are not actually within the port district. A little odd, but when the boundary lines were originally drawn in 1951, they followed the shoreline. This has raised an issue that the port commission is now dealing with; that being, while there are many registered voters living within the port marina, they have no vote when it comes to electing commissioners who decide the future of the port. Residents within the marina are also unable to run for a seat on the Port of Poulsbo Commission — the very body which governs their community, as they technically do not live within the port district. Liveaboards in the marina would like to see this changed.

Stephanie Sutherlin, a resident of the marina explains: “I would like to see the marina annexed into the district because I take pride in our community. I love living in downtown Poulsbo and I would like to contribute to the decisions being made in the district where I live.”

Commissioner Saunders said, “I think it is a good thing if we can have more actual boaters in our zone. I hope it does not take too much paperwork to get it done; I am happy Commissioner DeSalvo is taking the lead on this.”

Skip Meisch also feels strongly about inclusion, “Annexation of the marina into the port district will allow me, as a live-aboard in the marina, to vote on issues pertaining to the port district,” Meisch said.

With approximately 76 percent of port revenue generated by boaters, the port’s focus is obviously on maintaining and repairing the marina infrastructure while providing the best possible customer service to boaters, visiting and permanent tenants alike. The other key focus of the commission is to improve and expand shore-side public access. The port’s recent management restructuring was the direct result of immediate and long-term goals set by the commissioners. In Commissioner DeSalvo’s words, “let’s focus on making this the best customer service port in the Northwest.”

There have been other changes enacted by the port commissioners since the new commission was seated in January. Commissioner Saunders suggested and implemented moving the port commissioner meetings to City Hall. Initially, only the second meeting of each month will be held there due to scheduling conflicts. Eventually, all the regular commission meetings will be in the city council chambers. Saunders explains: “My intention to move the port meeting to City Hall is for a few reasons. To make it easier for members of the public to attend; our little shack on the water is small, parking and access is a little difficult. To try to have a larger crowd participate in our meetings, and to help make the public more aware of our activity, make it more personal. Eventually, I would like to have us on the public access TV channel, anything to get our port more positive attention.”

One of the first things proposed by Commissioner Saunders after being sworn in was to create three citizen subcommittees to work with the port. “I formed these committees to get public participation in the ports decision-making process. My intention is to ask people with certain professional and life experiences to help us make the port more fun, successful, and increase the awareness of the economic value the port brings to the entire zip code.”

Several members of the Poulsbo Boaters Association (PBA) are active within the subcommittees formed by the commission. PBA is a group of interested and proactive stakeholders, representing the interests of tenants (officially referred to as “licensees”) in the port marina. For the last several years, PBA has been represented at all of the port commissioner meetings and has brought multiple concerns to the forefront and presented those concerns to the commission in their reports. The Port of Poulsbo ommissioners and PBA have established a good working relationship and are looking forward to the future, improving the port marina we all love, increasing public access and working toward a cleaner Liberty Bay for all to enjoy.

— Pamela Benson, SV Spirit of Freedom, C-Dock, Poulsbo Boaters Association.

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