Port looks for financial fit for its rock wall slip
June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:56 PM
"POULSBO - BIG dollars are needed to solve a large erosion shoreline problem, Port of Poulsbo officials agree. With 25 years of continual tidal shifts tearing away at its rock bulkhead along the waterfront, the port must now figure out where exactly it's going to find the money to finance extensive repair work the wall so desperately requires. Boat Infrastructure Grant (BIG) money is presently being sought by the port and city in hopes of restoring the structure. Officials at the port are most interested in increasing the depth of nearshore water at the marina, which has dwindled due to the erosion, and the city is concerned about the fate of Waterfront Park. The park is one of Poulsbo's most popular sites and attracts everything from worldwide tourists to traditional Scandinavian events. But while saving the rock wall would benefit both agencies dramatically, there is still the larger question of the environment. In the last few years, such shoreline improvements have faced courses of rigorous hoops and red tape in order to provide basic, necessary maintenance. This is something the port knows all too well. Last year, the port had to lengthen a ramp to its docks after the Department of Ecology denied a permit to dredge a small portion of Liberty Bay. At that point, port officials were desperate and with one of their floats washing up on the rocks they had little choice but to follow DOE's instruction. All we basically want to do is get it back to where it was 25 years ago, explained port manager Barbara Waltz. Easier said than done. The port and city, which is backing efforts to restore the wall, are hoping to land $900,000 in Interagency for Outdoor Recreation Program's BIG money, but aren't stopping the funding ball there. The two entities are also hoping to roll additional funds to augment what all involved concur is a monumental project. The port is taking the lead in an attempt to secure $500,000 from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, which would leave approximately $400,000 to be attained elsewhere. SRFB money is likely and if the project is logical, visible and will also educate it is almost 100 percent it will receive funding, explained grant writer Kathy Barrantes. Barrantes said she felt the port's chances at the grant were good because there is $52 million in state and federal SRFB funds available this biennium and traditionally over two-thirds of all projects that have applied to the source have been funded. Poulsbo received $1.4 million from the SRFB last year for salmon revitalization via a new Lindvig Bridge, she added. This ($500,000) will definitely be eligible to match the BIG grant in many areas, Barrantes said, noting that the port will also have to look at grants from the Centennial Clean Water Fund as well if it hopes to get the financial boost it needs to finance the project. It's an expensive fix to do it right and make it work. The port commissioners agreed to have Pacific International Engineering of Edmonds do a feasibility study on the proposal. Shane Phillips, a civil engineer, has been hired for $12,300 to research options in obtaining the SRFB grant. That grant proposal must be sent to Roger Fuller, Kitsap County Habitat Biologist by Sept. 14. Fuller in turn will forward the most competitive grants in the county to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for final analysis and award. There's definitely a chance on the money, Phillips told port commissioners at a recent meeting. Engineering is a crucial piece of the puzzle because if the SRFB doesn't match BIG funds, the project must be scaled down - or dropped completely. In order to prevent this from happening, the port must convince both agencies that it has the best interests of the boaters and the salmon in mind. Without fish habitat improvements they won't receive permits anyway, so it's a Catch 22 situation regardless, Barrantes pointed out. (They) might as well let the state and federal government share in the cost. While the fish benefit is high on the list, you have to consider the repercussions or the compromises that need to be made for this to happen. Engineering also must meet the ecological requirements of the state, Doris Small of the Department of Fish and Wildlife explained, adding that getting the funds would not complete the puzzle. It doesn't matter if they get the money if they can't get the permits, Small said. But, she noted, maintenance dredging (which the state DOE denied last year) could get the nod of approval if the port times its request correctly. Compromises will have to occur but funding is likely because of the high visibility and public example that this sets, Barrantes remarked. This could be the 'poster child' of bulkhead removal. "