Is Port of Tracyton riding the last wave?

Sink or swim, at one of its first meeting of 2003 on Monday, Jan. 6, Kitsap County commissioners are expected to discuss the Port of Tracyton.

New Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent said late this week, she will recommend the port’s dissolution at the 10 a.m. briefing.

Tracyton Port Commissioner Walt Fitzpatrick, who has led the effort to dissolve the port, declined to comment about the briefing.

He did however send an e-mail to commissioners, the prosecuting attorney’s office and media on Jan.1 urging commissioners to ask Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge to file a petition for dissolution with the Superior Court.

For nearly a year Fitzpatrick has claimed the tiny port district is inactive and should have been dissolved years ago.

In July 2002 a judge granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting port commissioner Steve Hoffman from speaking to Fitzpatrick. Hoffman allegedly threatened Fitzpatrick at an earlier meeting.

That same month the Kitsap prosecuting attorney’s office issued a ruling, based on the information they had, that they could not deem the port inactive. According to state law a port is considered inactive if:

• It has failed to file its budget with the board of county commissioners for two fiscal years immediately following the filing of the petition.

• Failed to adopt a comprehensive plan of harbor improvement/industrial development.

• Does not own or lease property used for port purposes within two years prior to the filing of the petition.

• The port district does not own or lease land for port purposes within four years of filing the petition.

The port commissioners have not met since June of last year and the third commissioner Roy Anderson resigned in September. According to Fitzpatrick’s e-mail the port has not approved funds for operation of the port for 2003, no 2003 budget was submitted and port commissioner districts 1 and 2 have been left vacant beyond time limits required to fill the seats.

Fitzpatrick also claims the port has stopped collecting a tax, about $6 for every $100,000 of assessed evaluation. The port district has about 1,780 registered voters.

The port, which had floundered in the 1970s and 1980s, was revived in 1994. Commissioners had plans to purchase and revamp the Tracyton Community Center. So far the port has collected about $50,000.

Fitzpatrick would like to see the money divided among Pine Crest and Tracyton Elementary Schools. According to state law, a dissolved port’s assets may be given to the school district where the port resides.

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