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Rotary project reaping rewards of pile driving

POULSBO — Oyster Plant Park swapped something old for something new this week.

Monday, a crew from Port Orchard’s Thompson crews arrived at the park site to begin pulling pilings. A total of 13 were to be removed in all and replaced with more environmentally-friendly products.

The removal of the pilings makes way for a 50-foot pier that will be added to the over-water section of the park by community volunteers beginning today. The pier is funded through a $56,000 grant from Interagency for Outdoor Recreation and matching funds from the city.

The park, near the intersection of Fjord Drive and Ninth Avenue, was once the location of the Coast Oyster Plant. After the plant closed and the building began crumble, the city decided to use the .22-acre site for a park. The plant building was demolished in 2001.

During the summer of 2002, an informational kiosk, a trail to the beach, parking, a seashell-shaped wall and a grassy knoll were added to the upland portions of the site. That project was funded through a $37,000 grant from the Department of Ecology and work by community groups like the Lemolo Citizens Club, Master Gardeners, the Liberty Bay Association and the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Rotary.

In order to begin building the pier this summer, a number of pilings at the site needed to be removed and replaced. Poulsbo City Council approved a nearly $34,000 contract with Thompson at its June 4 meeting.

The pile driving was set to begin July 15, however, the project was delayed by the Army Corps of Engineers until this week.

Thompson crews used a 1962 fixed lead pile driver, with a 4,000-pound drop hammer and winches run by a 1952 Ford Flathead engine.

“This is the kind of pile driver that built Puget Sound,” said Paul Fritts, who runs the company along with founder Cliff Thompson.

Fritts said the Oyster Plant Park project was not much different from most other work his company does, except that they had to work a little later some nights.

“It’s a really typical job, the only thing that is a-typical would be during the summer the tides tend to be out during the day and in during the night,” Fritts said.

The job required an eight-foot or higher tide for the work to take place.

The Rotary’s first work party for the pier decking begins at 9 a.m. this morning. The finished product is planned to include benches and interpretive signs. It will also include 50 prisms that will be installed as part of the deck surface. The prisms are a Corps requirement to allow more light to filter through to the water underneath.

A floating deck will be added later in the summer after Thompson crews remove two additional pilings in mid August. Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey decided to wait to pull the pilings until after the Purple Martins that are nested in the poles have finished teaching their young to fly and can vacate the nests.

Jim Engels, one of the leads on the Rotary project, said the club plans to have work parties for the deck every Saturday during August.

He said he especially hopes that each and every member of the service organization will be able to come to at least one of the sessions, and added that anyone else who wants to help out is welcome, too.

“Last time we had neighbors coming down and helping out and bringing us lunch. It was really nice,” he remarked.

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