County backs position on WSF

KINGSTON — The residents of the Little City by the Sea and members of the Port of Kingston aren’t the only ones opposed to the state’s taking over the port’s ferry terminal property.

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution this week supporting Port of Kingston’s effort to maintain ownership of the 3-acre property that is leased to the Washington State Ferries for Kingston Ferry Terminal.

“The county supports the desire of the Port of Kingston Commission to maintain ownership of the Kingston Ferry Terminal property to ensure future economic development and protect the community’s interest in the property,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. “We strongly urge the state to negotiate a new lease agreement for the property that will be mutually beneficial to both parties.”

The resolution also states the county’s opposition to the state’s pursuit of the right to purchase property through condemnation or taking the property upon which the Kingston Ferry Terminal facilities are located.

“The state needs to do the right thing here by taking condemnation off the table and sitting down to negotiate a new lease without the condemnation looming over the port commission’s heads,” Endresen said.

“We’re not surprised but we appreciate it,” port commissioner Pete DeBoer said of the county’s support. “We’re very happy they did.”

At a public meeting in June, Washington State Department of Transportation officials said they would like to purchase the property to help control the ferry system’s costs, strengthen its financial standing and increase non-fare box revenue by bringing in food vendors. Port officials and residents loudly opposed the idea of selling the property to an agency they didn’t trust anymore.

In July, the port board passed a resolution, stating that it would not sell the land to the state.

Neither parties are negotiating at this time, DeBoer said, as the state wants to buy the property and the port, which is a non-willing seller, wants to negotiate a lease.

The port has been leasing the property to the state since 1952, however, WSDOT’s long-term lease expired in 1999 and it has been on a month-by-month basis since then. The two parties have been trying to negotiate a new lease since then but the port has been opposed to the state’s demands to allow for development at the site, which the port would not have any control over.

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