The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team is facing a tough situation. The club has outgrown its current home at the Pleasure Craft Marina, and the marina’s owners have asked the club to move on (see our story on page A1). The club has been given a two-month window, until Nov. 15, to find a new home.
While the City of Gig Harbor is working on the recently acquired Ancich Park, which may be the permanent home for the canoe and kayak club, the funding to develop the park likely won’t be available for another five years.
As a result, Alan Anderson, the racing team’s head coach, is reaching out for help to find a temporary home.
The city is responding.
After Gig Harbor surveyed different parks, the city decided Skansie Brothers Park would be the most suitable location for the club. It held a special city council meeting Monday night to discuss the situation in public and to talk about potential solutions.
One potential pitfall: If the city does authorize the club to use Skansie Brothers Park, the canoe and kayak racks would take up about one-third of the total space on the pier, and that would have the potential to affect various events that take place in the park, such as the Christmas tree lighting.
The club’s presence could be a minor inconvenience for park-goers, but it’s one residents should be willing to accommodate.
The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team means a lot to the community. The club recently won its second straight national championship and is considered one of the top feeder programs for next-level racing. Under Anderson’s guidance in the past decade, the club has gone from a nice local story to a national power, and right now, it needs the community’s support.
As council member Jill Guernsey said Monday, we don’t do enough for the kids in this community. The city goes to great lengths to respond to the needs of adults. Community events often are planned for young children and their parents, but teenagers often are ignored.
The canoe and kayak club gives youth and teenagers goals and a purpose. It keeps them busy, builds physical and mental strength, and it provides the structure for lifelong friendships and incredible travel experiences. Among a few locations during the past few years, club members have had opportunities to participate in events at Lake Placid, N.Y., Oklahoma City and Lake Lanier in Georgia, as well as Green Lake in Seattle and a few select locations in Europe.
Anderson, who has carried the figurative megaphone for his team for years, doesn’t want to move the club away from downtown Gig Harbor. The civic center was packed Monday night with program supporters who tout the impact of the 47 team members. And while that number may be relatively small, they’re all ambassadors for the community, particularly when they’re away from Gig Harbor Bay. Their success is a marketing department’s dream.
The city and the club still have some difficult hoops to jump through in order to reach an agreement on a contract that would permit the land use, and they have a very small time window in which to do so.
Sure, it would have an impact on Skansie Brothers Park, but ideally it would be a temporary fix before the team can move equipment to Ancich Park in a few years.
In the meantime, community members should voice their support for the club and all the wonderful things it does for kids of the community.
It’s worth accommodating and promoting our youth, especially when they do great things our community.