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Port of Tracyton annexation vote nears

The gray area shows the current Port of Tracyton district. The yellow represents the proposed areas for annexation into the port. - Courtesy graphic
The gray area shows the current Port of Tracyton district. The yellow represents the proposed areas for annexation into the port.
— image credit: Courtesy graphic

By KASSIE KORICH

Editor

A crowd of more than 25 people turned out Wednesday night to find what the future could hold for the Port of Tracyton area should voters approve annexation.

Port of Tracyton commissioners are looking to annex about 1,500 homes surrounding the current port boundaries. While many of those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting were openly in favor of annexation, some had questions on the port’s future plans and taxes. Should voters in the proposed areas approve the annexation in the Feb. 19 primary, port commissioners hope to first move forward with plans for a boardwalk.

“The beach looks good just to walk on the beach, why do we need a boardwalk?” asked one Tracyton resident.

Port of Tracyton Commissioner Gary Keenan explained it would allow everyone access and would feature benches, picnic tables and would make it more inviting to families.

“It would give access to people who can’t access it — a lot of people can’t climb down (to the shore) like kids can,” said Tracyton resident Kris Aleman.

Keenan estimated the proposed boardwalk would be about 50 to 80 feet long. Some questioned why no plans of the boardwalk have been designed to give voters an idea of the area’s potential.

“It takes a lot of money to come up with plans,” Keenan explained.

The proposed annexation will provide the district with an increased tax base and will allow the port to request unclaimed gasoline tax refunds for boaters that would act as matching funds for future port projects.

“There’s money for saltwater access, if we don’t use it someone else will,” Keenan said.

Tim Knapp, chair of the Tracyton Port Improvement Committee, urged those at the meeting to remember the vote isn’t connected to one particular project, but is about improving the community as a whole.

“Local communities take care of local problems, this is an opportunity for a local community to take care of their own,” Knapp said.

“You’re not voting on a certain project, but for us as a community to reach our full potential,” Keenan added.

Numerous questions on taxes also were brought up at the meeting. The Port of Tracyton tax rate is 3 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value — the lowest of all port districts in the state. Should residents in the proposed annexation areas vote yes, the average homeowner with a house worth $300,000 would pay $9 a year in port taxes. By law, the tax rate is limited to a 1 percent increase per year.

Some voiced their concern about the tax rate increasing and worried that what happened with last year’s Port of Bremerton tax increase would happen to them.

“We don’t have the capability ... it is limited by regulation, they did that through a separate vehicle we don’t have,” Keenan said.

The port has long-term plans for an improved boat launch, which Keenan stressed will take quite some time to come to fruition.

“It is in the long-range plan,” he said.

Other goals include increased parking, a drinking fountain, garbage collection and a landing area for kayaks and other non-motorized boats.

“I’m one of the people who lives in Bremerton, but I say I live in Tracyton,” said Carolee Vergeer. “I see the benefit of annexation. What’s the downside? I can’t see why wouldn’t someone want to be part of this wonderful community.”

Keenan explained the importance of improving the port’s facilities which the entire community could utilize.

“We don’t have our school anymore, it would be something concrete here in town everyone could use,” he said.

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