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Olympic Property Group seeking approval for new Port Gamble dock proposal

PORT GAMBLE — Olympic Property Group officials say the company’s new proposal for a dock in Port Gamble Bay will have less environmental impact than a controversial 2008 proposal.

Olympic submitted a permit application for the new project to the county in December 2009. The county is awaiting more details from Olympic staff before it reviews the application and opens it for public comment, county Shoreline Administrator Lisa Lewis said.

The dock would be a place for boats to load and unload, and moor temporarily in Port Gamble. Olympic President Jon Rose said the dock could draw new businesses to the waterfront.

“The company needs (to) find every way possible for this town to gain financial health,” Rose wrote in an email.

The county approved a permit for a 160-foot Port Gamble dock in 2008, but Olympic withdrew the application over protests from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. The tribe, which harvests seafood on Port Gamble Bay, argued the dock would hurt marine habitat. The citizen group Friends of Port Gamble Bay and several state agencies also voiced concerns about the project.

Rose said those issues helped guide the new dock design.

“We have learned a great deal about tribal and citizen concerns in the last year,” Rose wrote in an email. “The tribe has been very clear that water quality in the bay is one of their primary concerns. ... We heard their concerns loud and clear and are committed to doing our part to keep Gamble Bay clean and healthy.”

Port Gamble S’Klallam Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said the tribe will take a hard look at the new proposal.

‘While we appreciate OPG’s willingness to explore alternatives, we remain cautious of any potential development impacting Port Gamble Bay,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We’re reviewing the proposals made available by OPG, but our priorities will continue to lie in the environmental stewardship of the bay.”

Rose said the new design includes several elements that will reduce its impact on the harbor.

The new dock would be 10 feet shorter than its predecessor and its floats would allow light to penetrate into the water, reducing shadows on the seafloor. As with its earlier proposal, Olympic would remove wood debris and dredge contaminated soil to offset the impact of the dock, but the mitigation area has been moved closer to the dock site in the new proposal. The project would not proceed until after dredging was done and wood debris was removed.

Instead of operating as a marina, the dock has been designed to fit the state’s definition as a “community dock” or “terminal.” It would service up to nine boats, allow no overnight moorage and would not include a fuel pump.

The “terminal” designation is important, Rose said, because marinas that allow overnight moorage, and offer fuel and septic pump-outs are more likely to cause shellfish harvest closures.

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