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WSF gets OK for second round of projects

The ferry system was approved to continue the next phase of the overhaul in the maintenance yard in Eagle Harbor. The $39 million project has been a vocal point of discussion on the island. -
The ferry system was approved to continue the next phase of the overhaul in the maintenance yard in Eagle Harbor. The $39 million project has been a vocal point of discussion on the island.
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Citizens still wary about third phase of a multimillion dollar expansion.

Washington State Ferries has been approved to continue with the second phase of its maintenance yard overhaul on Eagle Harbor’s north shore.

The permit, approved by the city, involves the refurbishing and remodeling of existing structures at the ferry maintenance facility at the end of Harborview Drive.

The WSF site, and its proposed three-phase, $39 million upgrade and expansion, has long been a point of controversy on Bainbridge Island. Vocal island groups such as Reclaim our Waterfront point to a 1974 restrictive-use covenant issued by the Shoreline Hearings Board that granted up to 2.5 acres of land (known as Area A) for a community boatyard or related facility on the property.

The public facility has not been built and the proposed expansion of the WSF maintenance facility (phase three) could put that allotted land in jeopardy.

Phase two of the project does not involve altering the footprint of the existing building on the property, however, the move doesn’t come without some ire.

Earlier this year, the city lost a challenge to WSF’s status as lead environmental planning agency on their project. The city argued the entire project could impact the environment and marine life in the harbor.

The Kitsap County Superior Court ruling differentiated between the remodeling and expansion phases of the project, and upheld WSF’s right to complete their own environmental assessment and proceed with construction.

“We are rehabilitating the maintenance building to address structural, seismic and functional needs,” said WSF spokesperson, Joy Goldenberg. “We don’t anticipate any adverse impacts, and none of this work will interfere with the contaminant cap.”

The maintenance yards rests on top of a Environmental Protection Agency monitored Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor Superfund site – the result of creosote contamination from log pressing and ship building operations in the harbor. The land was capped in 1995. WSF acquired the site in 1959.

However, since the remodel involves the removal and replacement of existing structures such as piling and piers, some members of ROW are keeping a wary eye on the project.

“They are going to go down to the mudline, remove piling and put a concrete cap on it. That is soil that is bad and where is it going?,” asked ROW advocate and former city council member Merrill Robison.

Other ROW members are worried that the beginning of phase two could mean a showdown with WSF over phase three is not far off.

“We’re keeping a watch on them and making sure they don’t touch Area A,” said ROW member Jessie Hey. “As long as they leave that spot alone we won’t give them too much trouble.”

Goldenberg moved to assure that there were no steps being taken to move on phase three as the ferry system is currently strapped for cash.

“We aren’t pursuing the third project,” Goldenberg said. “We’ve completed one, but project three we are not pursuing at this time. We don’t have money for it. We are financially constrained.”

Phase one, the widening of a walk-on repair slips to accommodate vehicles, was completed in 2006.

Currently, there is no set timeline for phase-two construction to begin, but having to adhere to windows in fish cycles means the project is slated to finish in 2011 with a price tag between $10-$15 million.

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