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Misery Point boat launch renovations floundering

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recently submitted a design for a new Misery Point boat launch which was rejected by Kitsap County commissioners. The Seabeck launch is more than 40 years old. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recently submitted a design for a new Misery Point boat launch which was rejected by Kitsap County commissioners. The Seabeck launch is more than 40 years old.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

Local boaters might have to make do with the aging Misery Point boat launch for a few more years, if they’re lucky.

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) submitted a design for the state-owned Seabeck boat launch to Kitsap County commissioners a couple of months ago and the commissioners rejected it.

“They felt the design would further back up traffic,” said Kristen Kuykendall, project engineer with the WDFW.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said concerned Seabeck citizens told the commissioners they were not pleased with the elevated boat launch design. The commissioners looked at the designs and agreed.

“The design that they brought forward was a giant ramp that was elevated and looked like the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” Brown said. “Most boat ramps are at grade, we’re not talking about a pier. We don’t have any boat ramps in Kitsap County that would come close to this.”

Brown and Seabeck boaters said backing up boats to the elevated structure could be difficult.

Besides the concerns about the boat launch’s overall height, other objections include the 2-foot-tall curb meant to keep traffic from driving off the ramp and a cable handrail at the bottom of the structure.

Based on the county commissioners’ concerns, Kuykendall said she is working on lowering the Misery Point boat launch by about 2 feet, reducing the curb height and eliminating the handrail.

“We’re currently wrapping those designs up,” she said.

Brown said the state is only prepared to make “very minor revisions to their permit” and the WDFW is “submitting the same ramp with basically the same design.”

Brown said the state did not seek enough input from local boaters who use the aging boat launch. Kitsap Poggie Club member Ray Frederick said the Poggie Club was initially contacted and told the WDFW what they would like to see at Misery Point, but were told the new boat launch could not take up more of a footprint than the existing one.

“If the neighborhood was involved it probably wouldn’t have turned out like it did,” Brown said. “(The state) needs to have designs that take in the considerations of the neighbors and other factors.”

Kuykendall said that with environment and permit concerns, the WDFW “can only change so much.”

WDFW already spent $200,000 in grant money for the planning and design phase of the Misery Point project, but the overall price tag for construction is in the millions.

“The price tag is just shy of $2 million,” Kuykendall said.

Brown said the state never had construction money available for the Misery Point boat launch, but Kuykendall said the WDFW is looking for $1.5 million in funding, possibly applying for more grant money.

“The state has only had design money and they’ve never had construction money and that’s something that needs to be pointed out,” Brown said.

He added that “if the state isn’t interested” in working on the Seabeck boat launch, county commissioners already spoke with Port of Bremerton officials about taking on the project.

“Our first hope is to have the state apply for more grant money to do the project right this time,” Brown said. “If they don’t do that, we’ve already talked to port officials to make sure it gets done.”

Frederick said he thinks the boat launch will eventually be completed and would like to see the county and port step up and take on the project.

“I’d like to see that. I’d certainly like to see the port and county step in and do something,” Frederick said.

Kuykendall said the new Misery Point boat launch designs should be done by May and the WDFW is “still debating whether or not to re-permit the project with the county.” Construction could begin in 2012.

“It’s strictly funding-dependent. That’s a big unknown,” Kuykendall said. “The existing ramp is still usable.”

Frederick said launching a boat at Misery Point is extremely difficult and would like to see something done about it as soon as possible.

“It just doesn’t make sense that we’d have to go across the Hood Canal Bridge to launch at Salisbury Point,” Frederick said.

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