Tribe may hold Poulsbo ferry key

POULSBO — In a lesson straight out of a Robert Fulghum book, the Poulsbo City Council is finding that getting a passenger-only ferry may come down to one simple principle — sharing.

At its Aug. 6 meeting, council learned that the Suquamish Tribe and Port Madison Enterprises are interested in entering into a partnership with Poulsbo for passenger ferry service. The plan, for which the Suquamish Tribal Council has voted in favor of continuing exploratory discussions, would be to add a ferry route from downtown Seattle to the Clearwater Casino and then to the Port of Poulsbo Marina.

Vaughn Profit-Breaux of the Puget Sound Passenger Ferry Coalition told council members that his group felt the potential partnership could be a win-win situation for both parties.

“This is a complex and time-intensive endeavor but it can be met with success if you are proactive and willing to act when the opportunity presents itself,” He commented. “No decisions have been made but it makes a lot of sense, rather than duplicate services and compete for a similar pot of money, to work together.”

Profit-Breaux added that the partnership could be a boon for Poulsbo because it could mean passenger-only ferry service could be there sooner. Little Norway is part of Kitsap Transit’s passenger ferry plan, which will be before the voters this fall, however, it would likely be at least five years before Poulsbo’s phase would be implemented.

“If we went with Kitsap Transit we’re going to wait a lot longer than if we were to enter into a partnership with our neighbors the Port Madison Tribe,” commented Councilwoman Jackie Aitchison.

For the most part, Poulsbo council members seemed optimistic about continuing talks with Port Madison, although they did not take any formal action Wednesday.

Councilman Mike Regis said he would reserve his judgement until he learned more about the tribe and has had more conversations with both tribal and port representatives.

“Let’s talk about the organizational aspect before we get to the planning aspect,” he commented.

Councilman Dale Rudolph agreed, saying that he felt really informed about Kitsap Transit’s plan, whereas Wednesday was the first time he’d heard about a partnership with the tribe.

“I just want to make darn sure we’re ready for what we decide to do,” Rudolph said.

While the council did not take a formal stance on the issue yet, further discussions are planned.

Councilman Jim Henry, who has championed a passenger-only ferry in Poulsbo for years, said he hopes the council decides to enter into this opportunity.

“We’re just trying to take advantage of what’s out there,” he commented.

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