The Gig Harbor City Council and Parks Commission held a joint meeting on Monday, July 18 to discuss the status of two parks in the area. The City of Gig Harbor purchased the Ancich waterfront property in August of 2012 to add to the waterfront park system. In February, City Council requested that the Parks Commission facilitate a community visioning process for the future of the property. The Parks Commission has narrowed down the list of likely uses for the property.
“It seems to come down to some use for commercial fisherman” said City Council member Derek Young. “That waterfront Millville zone—one of the main uses for it is as a working waterfront. Then the human power crafts—kayaks, canoe, paddle boards—they’re hoping to get a part of this.”
Since the property is located in a resedential neighborhood, the park is expected to be a quiet, understated launching point into the water rather than a full-fledged, bustling public park. It may include a few picnic tables and minor ammenities, but the access to the water will be the primary purpose. According to Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm, the park may also provide a spot for the public to simply view the water.
“As you walk along the waterfront, there’s not a whole lot of spots where you can just stand and look out over the water and watch what’s going on,” Langhelm said. “Ancich is one of those sites.”
There are no funds currently available for the project, but the city plans to begin applying for grants from the state.
“One thing that we did, that we’ve done on most projects, is apply for a waiver of retroactivity,” Young said. “Basically it means that the money we put towards that site counts as a match for the future grant, so we don’t have to outlay any more cash if we can get a grant to do the site.”
Starting in the end of July or the beginning of August,the city plans to make improvements to the property while it waits for funding to become available. While nothing needs to be completely rebuilt, several pieces of the property need improvements and upgrades, notably the net shed, pier, dock, and bulkhead. The property also needs landscaping improvements, such as de-weeding and putting grass in.
“We’re going to be out there doing some construction in the park that is just stablizing the existing pier where the net shed sits,” Langhelm said. “That construction we’re going to be doing is not going to be allowing public access on the pier. It’s just gonna stablize it so the thing doesn’t fall down.”
Since the property will be used for commercial fishing purposes, the city will have to come to an agreement with the entities that wish to use the public property.
“We have commercial fising vessels using our maritime pier right now, so we’ve kind of got a process in place,” Langhelm said. “And, on top of that, the city has lease agreements with private entities all the time. It’s pretty common for jurisdictions to have lease agreements with private entities, and I can see this as being one of those.”
The Parks Commission will finalize their visioning process and sumbit a formal report to the City Council for consideration, at which point the council will likely make amendments or tweaks before the funds are allocated and the vision becomes a reality. Depending on the final vision, there will likely need to be a couple new docks built. There is no timeline for the start of construction for the park, although Young said he hoped it may be as early as next year.