City council welcomes new members

Government: Jill Guernsey sworn in as mayor; four council members begin new terms

of the GatewayDecember 11, 2013 

The Gig Harbor City Council ended the year with a few changes in cast.

Monday night’s meeting was about transitions. Mayor Chuck Hunter stepped down from his seat after eight years and swore in mayor-elect Jill Guernsey.

Casey Arbenz started his first term by swearing in alongside current council members Tim Payne, Steve Ekberg and Paul Kadzik.

A new police officer, Shawn Hoey, was sworn in at the start of the meeting.

“There’s a lot of swearing tonight,” Hunter joked.

Despite the excitement and change, the meeting also was full of resolutions and decisions. The council heard from several commercial fishermen and longtime residents during the public hearing for the Ancich Park project.

The planning process began in February and included a committee of stakeholders and the parks commission, plus an open house last month.

Area fishermen are excited by the prospect of a place to moor in the harbor. Many boats are moored in Port Townsend, Bellingham or as far away as Astoria, Ore.

As the council approved the Ancich plan, Payne said commercial fishing is a vital part of Gig Harbor, a city steeped in maritime history. It’s also an economic boon as visiting fishermen are expected to visit.

The Ancich plan would allow for commercial use of the netshed on the property. The working netshed is a tourism opportunity, senior planner Lindsey Sehmel said.

Council member Ken Malich said he’s waited for commercial use of the netshed for quite some time. He thinks it all ended up “just perfect.”

“It’s going to take money,” Malich said. “(But) at least we’re going in the right direction.”

The council also heard a presentation about the preferred alternative for the Harbor Hill Drive extension. The road, which would cost about $10 million, would relieve traffic in the Borgen Boulevard area in Gig Harbor North.

The project is about 10 percent designed, and the cost is estimated based on the early design, city engineer Steve Misiurak said.

Hunter said the road is an essential project that “needs to be built without much fooling around.” It would pick up at the Harbor Hill cul-de-sac, go east through the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club and terminate on Burnham Drive.

There is some concern about the proximity of the firing range, Misiurak said.

The council approved the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan with one change — it moved up the priority of the downtown waterfront area on Harborview Drive.

An annexation request from the Department of Natural Resources was approved. The annexation is all in Gig Harbor Bay, up to the “extreme low tide” mark in the east bay.

Before Hunter swore in the new members, the council members each thanked Hunter for his service to the city.

“Wow, was that only eight years that all this got done?” Ekberg said, adding that Hunter’s background in building helped the city accomplish big projects like Donkey Creek.

Payne said he knew Hunter’s term was winding down when Diane, Hunter’s wife, stopped attending meetings. Previously, she was always on hand and “stuck through to the bitter end” of often-tedious meetings, Payne joked.

Council member Michael Perrow said he appreciated Hunter’s down-to-earth style and that he wasn’t “all polished up and some Slick Rick.”

Guernsey told Hunter he was the right person at the right time for the job. She said his will make her new position easier in some ways and more difficult in others because he left such a mark on the city.

The Peninsula Gateway is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service