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Brownsville's Port in one of a kind

"The Brownsville Marina is in the midst of a makeover that will allow more patrons access to the facility.Using a $750,000 grant from the InterAgency Committee (IAC) for outdoor recreation and a $75,000 grant from Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), the port is revitalizing the marina.One of the newest additions to the marina is a handicap accessible pier, where a new wheelchair ramp has been installed. The $80,000 “Ramp Rider” is the second of its kind in Washington, but the only one currently operating. The “Ramp Rider” at Friday Harbor’s marina was closed because of funding problems earlier this year.Port Manager Bill Bailey said he “Ramp Rider” will enable people with disabilities access to the entire marina. “It’s a good spot to bring kids for fishing,” said Tina Potter of Port Orchard, a wheelchair user. Potter said she had just learned of the ramp and decided to go to Brownsville to check it out. Afflicted with a broken ankle, Potter relies on crutches or a wheelchair to get around. She said it is hard to walk down the pier with crutches because of the incline and she is happy the marina has wheelchair access.Bailey said he knows of only three other marinas in the United States that can accommodate people with disabilities.“The ‘Ramp Rider’ was built with elevator technology and lots of safety features,” Bailey said. “It will automatically shut down if anything goes wrong.”The wheelchair ramp is self-contained and has sensors to detect snow or ice on the rails. Bailey said port management will monitor the “Ramp Rider” closely to make sure it is not being used inappropriately.Along with the new “Ramp Rider,” the Port of Brownsville recently completed a 950-foot east breakwater and dogleg. The previous breakwater was 600 feet long and was not effective in sheltering boats from storms and boat wakes. The new breakwater has dimmed lights and is near completion, sans the firefighting system that will be in place by next week.In addition to the new breakwater, the Brownsville Marina has agreed to remove the creosote pilings (which aren’t environmentally friendly) and bulkhead along the park and replace it with a rock bulkhead. Plans for a new pavilion and stairway up to the Brownsville Upland Park will be completed by spring 2000. The park will be entirely re-landscaped and “barrier free” parking spaces will be placed near the park.The old pavilion has been torn down and the new pavilion project will go up for bid by the end of the month.Bailey, who plans to retire before the end of this year after 11 years at the port, said he is excited that the Brownsville Port is upgrading its facilities for all people.“We think we have something special here,” Bailey said. “This is such a great deal for the public.”"

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