Opinion

New Seabeck Marina a long time coming

DISH FROM

THE COMMISH

The owners of the Seabeck Marina have received approval of permits necessary to begin rebuilding this critical saltwater moorage facility. The commissioners voted 3-0 at our Dec. 8 board meeting to make amendments to our Shoreline Master Plan to allow the project to move forward as planned. For residents of Seabeck, it has been a long wait. The old Seabeck Marina was battered by storms and finally abandoned years ago. With the closing of the marina, the community lost a central gathering place and vital community asset.

One issue that caused delays for the reconstruction was the Shoreline Master Plan designation in the area. Even though a marina had been in existence for decades, Kitsap County’s Shoreline Master Plan designated the narrow zone around the marina as “conservancy,” a zone where new privately owned marinas were prohibited. This conservancy designation has been in place and unchanged since 1977. As the Department of Ecology reviewed the development permit issued by Kitsap County in December 2007, Ecology concluded the designation was inaccurate for the historic uses at the site. The Board of Kitsap County Commissioners agreed.

The narrow “conservancy” zone was surrounded by “rural” designations, which provide strict protection of the environment while allowing marine recreational uses. The commissioners felt a spot amendment to make the “rural” zone continuous made sense. Furthermore, it was our belief the original 1977 Shoreline Master Plan “conservancy” designation, which prohibited private marinas, was irrational since a private marina was historically in place for many years. Another oddity of this “conservancy” designation was the fact that while private marinas were prohibited, public marinas were permitted. So while a private owner would face hurdles, the Port of Bremerton or any other government entity would have had a much easier time getting needed permits if they were the project applicants. Beginning in 2009, Kitsap County will be conducting a comprehensive review and update of the 1977 Shoreline Master Plan to ensure other inaccurate and outdated information is removed.

The new Seabeck Marina project will have roughly 200 boat slips, the same number as before. It will feature a modern breakwater to protect the boats and moorage docks from rough Hood Canal storms. Also, a modern fuel station will be on site, the only such amenity on the Hood Canal saltwater shoreline of Kitsap County. Old creosote pilings will be removed, with steel pilings replacing their toxic predecessors. The new marina also will be further away from the fragile intertidal zone, and angled away and past eelgrass beds. These design elements will help ensure the new marina has less of an impact than the historic marina with regard to salmon rearing habitat.

It has been a personal goal of mine as commissioner to work to see this important project move forward. The combined impact of the marina and elementary school closings has been difficult for community residents. With the Seabeck Marina back on track, Seabeck is on the rebound. It is challenging work to balance growth while protecting our environment; offer marine recreational amenities while defending pristine shorelines; and develop tourist opportunities without eroding rural community character. It’s my belief this project is an example of balancing these often-opposing goals for the benefit of our community.

Illahee Preserve parking lot

gets green light

The Illahee Preserve is one of Kitsap County’s most unique parks. Situated in the middle of unincorporated East Bremerton, the more than 400-acre preserve is a welcome sanctuary filled with trails and inspiring tree canopies. Up until now, access to the preserve has been less than ideal. On Dec. 8, the commissioners approved a contract to begin work on a new 35-stall parking lot to be located off Almira Drive. The new parking lot will have direct access to a major trail head at the Illahee Preserve. We look forward to completing this project sometime in late March.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown appears the second Saturday of the month in the CK Reporter.

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