Poulsbo Port studies expansion

The depths of the Port of Poulsbo
The depths of the Port of Poulsbo's outer harbor. Most large vessels, such as for tour boats, need at least 12 feet in depth to dock.
— image credit: Shane Phillips / Coast and Harbor Engineering

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo Board of Commissioners is looking at how the port’s marina can better accommodate larger vessels and bring more tourists to the area.

The port has quite a bit of space to work with. The Department of Natural Resources extended the port’s outer-harbor boundaries in 2005 and the port isn’t using 70 percent of its available space, according to Shane Phillips, engineer with Coast and Harbor Engineering.

Phillips gave a presentation at the June 6 port meeting, which Commissioner Jim Rutledge called a “brainstorming” session. The port is looking for public input on potential expansion plans.

Phillips gave the board four alternatives, each with two phases; all alternatives extend the current docks west into the bay, and many alter the current breakwater.

The expansion would allow for larger vessels to dock; ships like the American Cruise Line and Argosy Cruise need a minimum 12-foot depth to dock, currently unavailable at the port’s commercial dock. When the American Cruise Line sailed into Poulsbo in May, the ship anchored just south of Liberty Bay Marina and used a smaller boat to transport passengers into downtown Poulsbo. The cruise line will be returning in the fall.

Miller is continuing the work of previous manager Kirk Stickels, who began inquiring how to bring Argosy Tours into Poulsbo.

Miller said the reconfiguration of docks would also allow the port to relocate the seaplane dock. Currently, planes dock on a float on F dock, which is sometimes too shallow depending on the tide. Miller said one seaplane became stuck in the bay’s mud before arriving at the dock.

The current configuration also prevents larger seaplanes from coming into Liberty Bay; the port has the only seaplane moorage in the bay. By relocating the seaplane dock to a deeper area, larger planes can start coming in, Miller said.

Phillips also explained the different ways the docks could be extended with an altered or new breakwater. Some breakwaters, called floating breakwaters, can also be used as transient moorage or for public access.

He said public access is important for grant-funding opportunities. Breakwater and float replacement rarely qualify for grants, unless public access is involved.

Depending on the material and configuration, Phillips said the first phase could potentially cost $2 million.

Miller said there is no timeline for a maintenance dredge, but the port should include it in long-range planning.

“Since the bay is slowly silting in, filling in, at some point it will become a problem, not just for the big boats but for everybody,” he said. The silt, mainly from the Dogfish Creek watershed, is natural, but development upstream will accelerate it.

He said the board is taking this discussion slow and wants as much community input as possible.

“[The board] wants to make sure the town really needs it before we go and spend millions and millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on it,” he said.



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