Port master plan doesn’t make waves

This is a conceptual drawing of a small non-motorized boat/kayak center for the Port of Kingston, proposed to go between ‘A’ dock and the boat ramp..  - Courtesy Image/Peter Brachvogel, AIA & BC&J Architects
This is a conceptual drawing of a small non-motorized boat/kayak center for the Port of Kingston, proposed to go between ‘A’ dock and the boat ramp..
— image credit: Courtesy Image/Peter Brachvogel, AIA & BC&J Architects

KINGSTON — In the 1995 Port of Kingston master plan, the top three issues the port expected to address were enhancing the upland and waterfront properties, building a motorized boat launch and constructing a non-motorized small boat launch/center.

While the first two items have been completed, the port hopes to finally cross the third item off its list with a new 10-year facilities master plan.

The port started the planning process in December when it sent a survey to residents within the port district and those who use the marina. Results showed that the top concerns were that the port needed to improve the North Beach recreation area, create additional parking, expand the marina moderately, and develop a small non-motorized boat/kayak center.

Following the survey, a citizens advisory committee of residents was created to help the port develop the plan. After working on ideas for the past few months, members of the port district and marina users had a chance to review what the committee came up with Wednesday night as the Port of Kingston hosted an open house.

The proposed kayak/non-motorized boat center seemed to be the most popular idea of the night, as residents encouraged the port to proceed with the idea.

The port was initially planning to attach a similar dock to the gazebo that is slated for the marina, however, additional research revealed that having a gazebo and kayak dock attached wasn’t compatible.

While there are still plans for the gazebo, which is expected to be constructed near the fuel docks, the small boat center has been proposed to be located between the boat ramp and ‘A’ dock, on the west end of the marina property.

When the idea was presented at the Kingston Town Meeting in February, port commissioner Pete DeBoer had several people immediately ask if it was possible to run a kayak rental business out of it.

“If the port builds a facility, it will take care of itself,” said commissioner Tom Coultas.

Citizen advisory member Michael Shoemaker explained the ideas for a minimal marina expansion, such as allowing for more big boats to dock, since the waiting list turnover is so slow for slips, and to provide additional transient moorage for both big and small boats.

One idea was to take the last half of the existing transient dock, whose slips currently face the marina, and flip it around so the slips are facing the breakwater wall. By doing that, it continues to allow for smaller boats to dock, but also creates more space for large guest boats to tie up.

Resident Walt Elliott suggested putting fixed buoys in the harbor to allow for transients to dock as well.

“It reduces the impact on the bottom (of the marina) and controls the derelicts out there,” he said.

The North Beach recreation area was another area of concern, especially because it’s been closed since the Feb. 4 storm damaged the walkway to the beach.

Port of Kingston commissioner Marc Bissonnette said the board has come to a consensus that it is going to “band-aid” the path so it can be used during the summer but close it during the winter. Residents told him Wednesday night that they have seen people ignoring the closure and jumping the fence, and noted that such activity will only get worse once low tides start.

“At low tide, that beach is really full,” said resident Jack Minert.

Another parks and recreation idea included expanding the green space in Mike Wallace Memorial Park. Bissonnette said he personally would like to see the lawn expanded, which could be accomplished by replacing the existing asphalt pathway between the lawn and the bulkhead.

“This is sacred — we can’t shave a square inch off it,” he said with a chuckle of the park. “No net loss of lawn.”

There were a lot of surveys that said it was a waste to pave over the green area in the first place, he added.

As with any small town with big events, like farmers markets, plus a popular marina, parking is always an issue. However, since the port started talking about upland improvements the past few years, the idea of underground parking has been on the table. Peter Brachvogel of BC&J Architects of Bainbridge Island presented viable options for creating underground or “tuck under” parking beneath the surface of where the Restaurant At the Dock used to be located, and also beneath the existing parking lot on Central Avenue.

Both ideas would double the amount of current port parking, Brachvogel said.

The next step will be to gather all the ideas and start writing the plan, DeBoer said. He expects it to be finished by mid-summer.

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