By STEPHEN L. SWANN
2014 will be a big year for the Port of Poulsbo, the Port District, and the entire Poulsbo community.
The year begins with a relatively new team. Jim Rutledge was elected to the Port Commission in 2011; Mark DeSalvo and I were elected in November 2013. Our executive director, Brad Miller, came onboard midyear 2013.
Ambitious goals have been established for the New Year:
Port expansion. The port is a $5 million asset, with annual revenues of about $1.15 million. However, maintenance and operations expenses almost equal revenues.
On Feb. 11, voters will be asked to approve the Port District’s expansion to include Poulsbo’s city limits and the Liberty Bay shoreline. For an average investment of $75 per landowner, the port district will receive approximately $190,000 in additional tax revenue for needed capital projects and marina expansions.
Later this month, the North Kitsap Herald will host a forum on the issue at City Hall. This session will permit the port to explain how it will spend additional revenue, and to respond to questions from the Liberty Bay community.
Port-city real estate purchase option. The City of Poulsbo and the port have entered into a three-month option agreement for the purchase of the old City Hall property. During this period, the port will investigate economic development and financing of this downtown property.
It is not infrequent that the absence of a downtown hotel and conference center, with additional parking, has been noted by residents and visitors. The port, in light of its unique status under Washington state law, is well positioned to undertake major projects for economic benefit of the port district and the city.
“Clean Marina” designation. The Poulsbo Marina recently began the process of obtaining a Clean Marina Designation. Clean Marina Washington is an incentive-based certification program in which marinas assess their operations and implement improvements to better protect the environment. When they reach the qualification standards of Clean Marina Washington, they earn the right to “fly the flag.”
Liberty Bay’s geography presents special challenges to water quality. Because the bay does not flush well into Puget Sound, it is especially important that the Poulsbo Marina exhaust every option for doing what it can to improve upon water quality. One important strategy has been to provide free sewage pump-out stations at the marina. Additionally, vessels at anchor have long been suspected of illegal discharges into the waters of Liberty Bay. Free access to these pump-out facilities will hopefully encourage boaters to dispose of their waste properly.
Transportation enhancements for Poulsbo. Float plane service to and from Poulsbo is limited to private aircraft and special commercial charters. Imagine a scheduled Friday afternoon flight to Friday Harbor or Victoria, with a Sunday return to Poulsbo. In 2014, this idea will be explored by the port.
With a 12,000-foot “runway” in Liberty Bay, and Poulsbo’s central location between Bremerton and the Straits’ communities, enhanced air service for the port deserves investigation.
Promotion of yachting events. 2014 will witness increased boating activities by larger groups far beyond Liberty Bay. One key example is the Rotary Club Yacht Regatta schedule for mid-July. The port has been invited to participate in this event’s planning. Hopefully, it wlll become an annual event.
Improved business practices. The Port of Poulsbo’s Marina has been one of the last bastions of vessel moorage in the Puget Sound area without a requirement for insurance. While most responsible boaters recognize the need for insurance — to protect themselves, their neighbors, and the marina — the port has ignored this common-sense requirement for its moorage tenants. For moorage agreements in 2014, proof of insurance is required.
Additionally, monthly lease contracts also mandate security deposits, for the port’s protection.
Promotion of Tourism. The port is always looking for ideas to enhance the Poulsbo visit by tourists, arriving by land or by sea. As an example, the port is investigating installation of an ATM in the waterfront area. Currently, there is no convenient access to an ATM between Front Street and the marina.
The Port of Poulsbo — www.portofpoulsbo.com — is one of 75 ports in Washington state. Bring your friends and families down to the port’s marina and greet our staff and visiting boaters on E and F docks. (Watch us by webcam at www.siteground315.com/~longship/.)
— Stephen L. Swann is a member of the Poulsbo Port Commission.