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OPG proposes a commercial dock for Port Gamble

PORT GAMBLE — Olympic Property Group is looking to enter in the local dock rat race several other groups and private citizens have been trying their hands at. The corporation feels its dock will be well-received, however, because it will be a commercial and community dock and will be constructed on the footprint of a older pier near the historic Port Gamble mill site.

The estimated 230-foot dock will also serve the foot ferry during the 2009 Hood Canal Bridge closure, said OPG President Jon Rose. The goal is to have the project completed by then to help reduce the commuting and traveling crunch that will accompany the six-week closure.

“We’re doing this in conjunction with Washington State Department of Transportation for the Hood Canal Bridge closure,” he said. “We have an agreement with DOT that OPG will fund the construction. The state was planning to do the same construction and then tear it out.”

Rose said OPG planners decided it would be more prudent to utilize the pier for the closure, and keep it for Port Gamble afterward, because it is something the town desperately needs. OPG was planning to construct a dock similar to the state’s, and figured it would be a waste of resources to build two, one of which was going to be razed after its usefulness had ended.

The proposal comes on the heels of a Kitsap County Hearing Examiner decision not to allow a different, private dock further south in Port Gamble Bay. The community and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe strongly opposed that plan because of its design to build a 220-foot dock in an otherwise pristine area. Rose said he feels the OPG dock plan differs because it will be constructed in an area that has had docks before, and will have a smaller impact on the surrounding environment.

Kitsap County Department of Community Development shoreline planner Lisa Lewis said the new dock will allow light to reach the water below it, something that will be more environmentally friendly to the surrounding habitat.

“The shoreline designation for that area is urban and it is a commercial use dock for the public,” she said. “The shoreline designations explain what can and cannot be done in that area. They have the right to apply, and the use of this (dock) is much different than the (private) dock proposal. We haven’t had any public concern for the dock proposal.”

There will be a hearing at 9 a.m. Aug. 23 at the Board of County Commissioners’ Chambers in Port Orchard to discuss OPG’s proposal and allow residents to speak up on the project. Rose said he hasn’t heard many concerns from the public, just a few questions about the plan.

“We haven’t gotten a lot of angst because we’re proposing to build a dock where there was a dock before,” he said. “Port Gamble needs a really nice dock functioning to have a working water front... The existing pier has been there for three or four bagillion years. We’re very chagrined to tear out something that’s become a very iconic symbol in Port Gamble.”

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