Rotary Club shells out support for Oyster Park

POULSBO — When Coast Oyster Plant was razed into a pile of rubble along Fjord Drive, many nostalgic residents in Poulsbo recalled “better days” when the local shellfish industry boomed and families reaped the financial benefits that accompanied harvest time.

Others, however, looked to the future and envisioned small waterfront amenity which would serve generations yet to come. Poulsbo Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey and the Poulsbo NK Rotary were among them — seeing more than broken oyster shells and rotten wood but an opportunity as well.

Since the aging structure was torn down last year, the city has been there as a guiding hand to help the make the .22 acre site into a usable park.

Dubbed “Oyster Park” to commemorate the industry which lasted a half century on the parcel, the area will be equipped with an informational kiosk, landscaping, a gravel trail, a grassy knoll, a small spiral wall and five oversized parking spaces which will allow boat-bearing vehicles additional room to unload.

The Poulsbo NK Rotary club is handling project management, according to a grateful McCluskey, who said that “lots of helpers” were working together on the community project.

Jim Ingalls describes himself as “just a worker” on the site and noted that Rotary member Jim Martin originally brought the proposal to the organization’s attention. Martin is now the overall coordinator for the project and is in charge of everything from volunteer labor to donations. He said this week that it was important to the Rotary “to do it right the first time.”

“I was always kind of disappointed in the place,” said Martin, who grew up in the Poulsbo area. So, when the city leased the site, he jumped at the chance to help.

“It’s about time something happened down there,” Ingalls said. “That’s why the Rotary got behind this and decided that this would be this year’s project.”

Ingalls and Bill Austin were on hand Monday morning, working with a cement mixer from Fred Hill Materials to repair a retaining wall and create additional concrete support at the park. The two also added a silt fence.

“Once the cement work is done they can start on the landscaping,” said McCluskey, who added that local nearshore habitat expert Kathy Barrantes was assisting in selecting native plants for the project.

The upland portion of Oyster Park will be funded via a $37,000 grant from the Department of Ecology with some of the money offset with inkind services. That’s where the donated labor of the Rotary and other civic-minded groups comes in, McCluskey said.

“It’s good for them as far as doing a project. It’s good for us as far saving money,” she remarked. “What we don’t spend here we can always spend somewhere else.”

The city has also secured a $150,000 grant from the Interagency for Outdoor Recreation which will be used to replace the pier at the park sometime next year. Existing pilings will remain at the site but a dock (still in the design stages) will be added to accommodate boats.

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