Council stalls fuel dock grant due to lack of public comment

Grant applications for Ancich Waterfront Park approved

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

A lack of public comment Monday night sunk a 2014 grant application for a fuel dock on Maritime Pier.

The Gig Harbor City Council heard the first reading of a resolution that would allow the city to apply for a Boating Infrastructure grant for Maritime Pier. The grant is provided through the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office. Improvements would include expanded floats and a fuel dock.

Council members cited concerns with the resolution, including the tight deadline, a lack of public comment and the feeling that the grant request dropped in out of the blue.

Currently, there is not a fuel dock in Gig Harbor. The hope is one would serve as a place for recreational boaters and commercial fishermen to gas up.

The deadline to submit the application for the grant is Thursday. One of the mandatory questions on the online application is whether sufficient time was provided for public comment. Even the council didn’t feel altogether prepared.

Council member and Mayor pro-tem Steve Ekberg, who filled in for Mayor Jill Guernsey, said he didn’t feel he had a grasp of the project.

Monday night was his first opportunity to see a sketch of proposed changes and it was the first time he had heard a dollar amount. Lita Dawn Stanton, director of special projects, said that the maximum grant amount is $1.4 million, which would require a $400,000 match from the city.

Ekberg opened the floor for a public hearing.

Jeni Woock, speaking on behalf of Citizens for the Preservation of Gig Harbor, noted that it was the lack of public involvement that made the resolution troubling.

“The need and desire for a fuel dock is out there. It’s too bad it was last minute,” she said.

Tides Tavern owner Peter Stanley said that the fuel dock is a project that is a longtime coming.

“This is a really needed facility,” he said. “We’ve been without a fuel dock for a long time.”

Dave Morris, who is involved in a committee working on the project, also spoke in favor of the project.

Council member Tim Payne was noticeably frustrated by the resolution.

He noted that he wasn’t upset with any person or stakeholder in particular, he was “just ticked.”

“As much as I want to move this forward, I can’t,” Payne said. “And I’m ticked, quite frankly.”

Council member Ken Malich was disappointed the Maritime Pier projects would be delayed — it could be up to two years before seeing grant money — but was more optimistic about future options. Had the grant application been approved, the city wouldn’t have known if it had won until June 2015. In fact, Malich thought that extra time and public knowledge was a good trade-off.

“We can still pursue it,” he said. “We just have to take our time.”

No council member motioned to approve the resolution, effectively killing it. Council member Casey Arbenz called the lack of public comment “a dealbreaker.”

The council did approve three Recreation and Conservation Office grant applications for Ancich Waterfront Park, another downtown dock. In this case, there was no question about ticking the box for public comment. The Parks Commission has hosted open houses on the project. Part of the grant money would fund public canoe and kayak storage at the park. That storage area would provide room for the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 karen.miller@gateline.com Twitter: @gateway_karen

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