Bainbridge Harbor Commission discusses city dock improvements with Waterfront Park design team

Redesign project manager William Grimes listens as harbor commissioners talk about potential improvements for the makeover of Waterfront Park and city dock. - Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review
Redesign project manager William Grimes listens as harbor commissioners talk about potential improvements for the makeover of Waterfront Park and city dock.
— image credit: Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review

The Studio Cascade design team, which opened its four-day public studio Sunday, has wasted no time gathering input for the Waterfront Park and city dock makeover.

The team met with Bainbridge Island Harbor Commission officials Monday to discuss the nearly 35-year-old city dock.

From rowing teams to sailing camps to everyday use, Bainbridge Island Harbormaster Tami Allen said the public dock sees much traffic on a regular basis.

"It's the gateway of all this stuff that's happening constantly," Allen told the consultant team.

In the 90-minute meeting, harbor commissioners said the aged public dock has underserved the island's boating community. It's a part of island life that includes approximately 3,500 registered boats, not including the numerous unregistered crafts such as kayaks, canoes and day sailers. It is also utilized by educational programs through the high school and community.

Commissioners noted there were many things that need improvement at the dock, which sits south of the Washington State Ferries shipyard facility on the edge of Eagle Harbor.

"We are looking at the possibility of expanding the current dock with the idea being that it's old, it's inadequate, it's not [handicap] compliant, the floats ground out at low tide," said Harbor Commissioner Dave Kircher.

"The launch ramp … is at low-tide almost unusable because it's not long enough. The floats don't work for rowers who have to get into their shells by wading into the beach," Kircher added.

The current dock, the commissioners continued, has become increasingly difficult for tour companies that often take elderly customers on the water, and there's also dense traffic coming from school sports programs and summer camps.

And the average boater who needs the launch ramp can only use it during high tide hours, officials said.

Over the past year, the harbor commission proposed a draft design of its dream dock. That expansion would include a wider pier with four additional finger docks parallel to the shoreline as well as an extended launch ramp.

The commission's hopes for the improved city dock would be that it takes into account separating motorized from non-motorized vessels while also allowing space for visiting boaters.

"It's not a marina; it's a city dock," Kircher said.

"We have marinas. We have plenty of space for people who need permanent moorage," he said. "And this is just for someone who wants to come in here for two or three days and visit our community. So we thought that was a good overall plan, to meet primarily the needs of the Bainbridge Island residents, but also an occasional visitor."

In the past, the dock was met with limitations for expansion because citizens wanted to preserve the view of the water and grant applications focused on boat trailers, Allen and commissioners said.

The group made clear, however, the dock serves more than that.

"It's working really well. We just have these glitches that we're trying to fix — so that as far as people taking turns or getting a whole bunch of people on the water and a whole bunch of people off the water — there are times of congestion," Allen said.

William Grimes, the project manager for the park renovation, explained the design team will come up with a variety of designs that take into account the commission's input for a dock.

For instance, matching facilities with a range of themes for the park, including the ideas of economy, community and affordability.

Consultants for the dock redesign effort will continue to collect ideas this week during their studio hours at city hall. They are also planning to brief the city council on their work at the council meeting Wednesday at city hall.


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