Opinion

A boatyard now, a new dock and marina later? | Our Opinion | Dec. 3

Decisions, oh, decisions. In an effort to finally settle the contentious 1995 Memorandum of Agreement between the state and the city, Bainbridge must either lease nine-tenths of an acre on the west side of Washington State Ferries’ maintenance yard or accept a $2 million buyout. There’s always a third option, of course, and that’s to do nothing.

It’s not an easy predicament to resolve, especially since there are no strings attached to the money, which is an extremely tempting offer for a cash-strapped city. Hopefully the city will focus on Eagle Harbor and not pay bills with the state’s payoff.

Fortunately, the city has received at least one legitimate proposal (see page A3) for each of the options. One would use the money to upgrade the aging municipal dock and transient marina at Waterfront Park, while a proposal by four islanders would locate a boatyard on the WSF lease site.

While both proposals have redeeming values, it makes more sense for the City Council to enter into a 20-year lease for the land and sublet it to a boatyard operator. Put it this way: If the city takes the money, that waterfront land is gone forever; if they keep the land and use it as a central boating facility, there’s still the possiblity of upgrading the dock and marina in the future.

The Parker Group, which proposes creating the boating service business, consists of professional islanders who, as a collective group, have been involved for many years in all aspects of boating in and around Bainbridge. The city needs to make sure it is a feasible project, but it may have the potential of making Eagle Harbor an important boating center in Puget Sound.

The proposal included the following sentence: “It should be noted that this facility will provide one cornerstone for future waterfront developments financed by others, such as additional transient moorage, public rowing and sailing facilities.” The proposal also envisions connecting the boatyard and the city dock.

If the “cornerstone” vision is possible, then the land has the potential of being worth a lot more than $2 million.

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