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Port Gamble plan gets first airing March 18

POULSBO — Kitsap County begins its review of the environmental impacts of Port Gamble redevelopment with a March 18 public meeting in Poulsbo.

The meeting is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. in the Poulsbo City Hall Council Chambers, 200 NE Moe St.

Olympic Property Group, the real estate arm of Pope Resources, submitted to Kitsap County its master plan for Port Gamble’s redevelopment in January.

The master plan calls for a neighborhood of approximately 200 new homes, with a neighborhood pavilion and beach access. Century-old homes owned by Pope Resources would be sold.

An agricultural district is proposed, with a farmers market, orchard, production garden, vineyards, and a landscape and horticultural center.

Pope Resources also proposes a waterfront boardwalk, a marine science center, and nature trails, parks, stores and waterfront dining. The marine science center would house a Port Gamble S’Klallam cultural center.

While the Port Gamble redevelopment plan and the environmental cleanup of the old mill site are not related, they do share a critical component: A dock.

Proposed, according to OPG President Jon Rose: An 85-foot gangway, 150-foot float and 80-foot pier that would allow for moorage of nine boats — one fewer than the threshold that would designate it a marina.

Pope Resources and the state Department of Ecology were engaged in prolonged negotiations this week over Pope’s desire to keep two docks out of the cleanup plan, so they can be proposed as mitigation when Pope applies for a permit to build a new dock.

Ecology says the two old docks, which have creosoted pilings, must be removed. Pope Resources officials say they agree, but they fear that without those two docks in place when they apply for a permit for a new dock, their chances of getting permit approval are nil.

Pope Resources had a deadline of Monday to agree to the cleanup plan or face an enforcement order the next day.

According to emails sent by Rose, Pope Resources and Ecology met over the weekend and agreed to continue negotiations through the week.

Wednesday, Rose reported, “We and DOE are still conversing. Still nothing to share, but we are hoping to reach a conclusion by [Thursday].” Thursday afternoon, he reported that negotiations were continuing.

There’s a lot at stake. Ecology has $7 million in state funding for acquisition of 565 acres of forestland and shoreline that Pope has on the market. That funding, however, is tied to the signing of the cleanup plan. In addition, Ecology has $2 million in state funding to close a sewer outfall and restore geoduck beds.

Pope Resources is the spinoff of Pope & Talbot, which operated a mill in the company town — patterned after the owners’ hometown of East Machias, Maine — from 1853 to 1995.

Pope Resources entered Ecology’s voluntary cleanup program 11 years ago and has spent $10 million on marine and upland cleanup so far. To be done: The removal of 1,800 creosoted pilings and removal of above-water structures, and dredging and removal of wood waste from the bay.

Regarding the study of the environmental impacts of Port Gamble’s master plan: County environmental planners have begun to identify issues, including traffic and water resources as well as cultural and historic impacts, and invite public comment as part of the process, called “scoping.”

“The scoping process and the upcoming public meeting provide a great opportunity for public input at the beginning of this process,” County Commissioner Robert Gelder said on the county’s website.

“Before the public hearings or any land use decisions on the project, we want the EIS to be comprehensive. The public’s input on what the EIS should consider is key to a good product.”

Residents can also submit comments by writing.
— Via e-mail to help@kitsap1.com no later than March 20.
— In writing, postmarked no later than March 20, to: Kitsap County Department of Community Development, Attn: Port Gamble EIS Scoping Planning and Environmental Programs Division, 614 Division St., MS-36, Port Orchard, WA 98366

 

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