Misery Point boat launch upgrade drowning in broken promises

Any remaining hope for a new Misery Point boat launch was pretty much dashed after the state’s conceptual design was recently denied by Kitsap County commissioners.

Several years and $200,000 later, the more than 40-year-old boat launch sits as it probably will for the next 40 years. A state-owned boat launch, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife submitted a flawed design that many local boaters didn’t even agree with, much less county commissioners. Where was the communication between the state and the county on this one?

Besides the fact that local boaters still only have a semi-usuable boat launch in Seabeck, the saddest reality of this project-gone-wrong is the $200,000 that was wasted. A large chunk of change for sure, but the worst part is the money was funded by tax-paying boaters. And for what? The chunk of cement the state calls a boat launch that still remains?

The $200,000 — a grant from the Boating Facilities Program which is funded in-part by a portion of the gas tax paid by boaters — was intended for the design of the launch as well as permits. But not for a design that was displeasing to the very people who will be using the boat launch. The design included a 2-foot-tall curb to keep people from driving over the side. No boat launch should be elevated to the point that a towering curb is needed for safety precautions.

If the county takes over the project, will it be yet another promise unfulfilled? The state is obviously having a hard enough time getting this project rolling and the county has enough budget problems of its own. The total on this project is going to be in the millions and the money has to come from somewhere.

As with any environmental project, protecting the area’s natural habitat is a priority, but building a sufficient boat launch should be the real priority. People launching their boats are constantly driving off the end of the boat launch, but they have no choice if they want to successfully get their boats in the water — especially during low tide. In the warmer months, the launch becomes so crowded, people with smaller boats back their trailers in next to the launch right in the sand and plant life — the very plant material the state wants to protect.

Every summer the launch is packed with boaters, but it’s the only way to get out onto the Hood Canal without having to drive to the Salisbury boat launch clear on the other side of the Hood Canal Bridge. With $200,000 already spent on this project, state officials need to meet with the community and commissioners and hash out a realistic, workable plan or local boaters can kiss a new Misery Point boat launch goodbye.