Port digs into rock wall deal

POULSBO — After missing grant opportunities and each other’s points for the past several months, Port of Poulsbo Commissioners and members of the Poulsbo City Council will finally sit down together tonight and discuss the joint challenge they face at Waterfront Park.

The park’s enormous rock retaining wall has been sloughing for about a quarter century but recent erosion problems at the site have made the “some-day” project a “must-do” item for both entities. As the bulkhead continues to corrode, the city’s risk of losing highly popular features at the park increases. Meanwhile, with rocks falling into existing marina area, the port’s moorage space decreases.

“We want to recover some of that depth at the dock,” Commissioner Tony DeCarlo explained during a special meetinf Monday. “The city’s fire pit is being undermined, same with the Kvelstad Pavilion — I don’t think either will last two more years.”

Neither the port nor the city wants to find out.

With this in mind, the commissioners and Randi Thurston of the Department of Fish and Wildlife met to review the restoration project as it now stands and to narrow down the huge list of solutions to the growing problem. The port is considering a sheet pile, rock wall and armor to restore the shoreline wall but is uncertain which will be most acceptable, effective and affordable.

“My general feeling is that the sheet pile will work to recover the park and keep rock from going under our piers. It’s doing that now,” Commissioner Mike Winters said, noting that creating a natural beach slope — the most environmentally-friendly suggestion of the bunch — was simply not feasible. “We’d have to go all the way to Front Street.”

No matter what route the port and city decide to take, required permits for the project were at least “a year out,” Thurston said. Having to wait a year for permits will mean pushing the project down the time line even further. Even so, DeCarlo said, no matter what happened in the short-term, he planned on at least getting the renovation proposal off on the right foot.

“We don’t want to start on a project that’s going to fail from the beginning,” DeCarlo said.

To assure this didn’t happen, Thurston suggested a future meeting between the port, city, National Marine Fisheries Service, Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Whether all the groups can sit at one table on the matter, she added, has yet to be determined. From her department’s standpoint though, Thurston said environmental considerations are numerous.

“What we really want is no net loss of habitat,” she explained. “If we can regain some habitat — that’s good too.”

“We’re trying to find a happy medium to save the park and get the rock out from under the pier,” Winters said. “We just want to do what’s right.”

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