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Port of Poulsbo won’t seek annexation until 2015; focuses on fuel dock, adding slips

POULSBO — When the Port of Poulsbo failed to expand its borders in February’s special election, it was forced to reconsider its plans.

Now those plans for annexation may take a little longer to come together. Port commissioners have decided not to try for another vote on November’s ballot.

“They basically felt it was too soon,” Port Manager Brad Miller said. “The special election was just in February. To do it again in the same year is a little too soon. They want to take some time to work on some things here in the marina and in the community and then they’ll discuss it again later on.”

Annexation is not a lost cause for the port, however. Miller said commissioners may take up another effort in 2015.

The port hasn’t made any decisions on what a future annexation effort will look like — whether it will be to expand the port district to the city limits, or beyond to the surrounding Liberty Bay shoreline as with the last attempt.

“They’ve talked about a couple options,” Miller said. “One was to do the same territory as before, the other was the city limits, and the other was city limits plus urban growth areas.”

While the port did not pick up any new tax revenue through its annexation effort, it wasn’t depending upon the money to fund a to-do list of projects within its district, specifically around the marina.

The port began replacing pilings at the marina on July 8. The creosoted wood pilings are being replaced with pilings made of galvanized steel. The port is allowed to replace up to 18 pilings per year.

“We plan to do that until the creosote is gone,” Miller said.

The port plans to replace three pilings on F dock, and the remainder on C dock for this round of replacements.

The port is also in the process of repairing its parking lot near the entrances to the marina. Work on the parking lot will be completed by fall 2015.

Port officials are considering whether to repair or replace its aging fuel dock. Whatever the decision, the port would like to address the dock in 2016.

After the fuel dock is taken care of, the port will shift its attention to the breakwater protecting the marina, constructed of decades-old pilings.

“It’s been there since the ’60s,” Miller said. “It’s not in great shape. Could cost anywhere between $8 million and $12 million.”

The venture will likely be paid for through a collection of sources, including grants, Miller said.

“We are just hoping to get it done within the next 10-15 years,” he said. “Nobody is even sure if it will last another 10-15 years.”

Another project is taking shape at the port: the expansion of AA dock.

Miller said eight fingers could be added to AA dock, providing 11 more 30- to 32-foot slips, which is the greatest demanded slip size at the marina.

Initial estimates for the cost of expanding AA dock are between $250,000 and $300,000, Miller said, but the costs are easily recovered.

“Mainly because of return on investment,” Miller said. “The moorage it would generate would pay for itself within eight years.”

The added slips would add one more possible space for the port’s current effort to increase liveaboard capacity at the marina. Port officials are negotiating with the city to allow more liveaboards but faces pushback because of downtown parking concerns. The port is prevented from increasing liveaboard numbers by a nearly three-decade-old agreement with the city that states the port must add one parking space per boat slip. But since the agreement was made, the port has added marina capacity, yet the city never enforced the agreement.

“We’ve received a legal opinion saying, ‘No, we don’t have to make up parking,’ ” Miller said.

“They allowed the marina to grow to its current size without requiring parking be constructed or purchased,” he said. “So this question of retrofitting should not be a question. If you did not require it back then, how can you require it now?”

Miller notes that the lapse in enforcement will not apply to new construction, such as the expansion of AA dock.

The port currently has 12 liveaboard tenants. It wants to increase the number to around 25, as allowed by state regulation. If AA dock is expanded, it could bump that number up to 26.

The port is preparing a proposal for the city to negotiate the liveaboard increase.

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