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It’s time islanders have their own boatyard | Letters | Oct. 21
WSF has tendered an offer to Bainbridge Islanders to make available a 20-year lease on an acre of land in Eagle Harbor for a community boatyard. The offer is in settlement of the 1995 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between WSF and the city. The acre of land is the fill WSF was permitted to use to cap the contaminated soil it acquired by condemnation (ending the successful community boatyard business already there.)
There is a catch. Unless COBI and its lessee can meet a number of fairly strict requirements, the lease is a no-go. Understandably wary of involving the city in a complicated landlord/tenant relationship, WSF also negotiated an option – a one-time $2 million (or less) payment to the city for a water-related project. The amount is dependent on appraisals of nearby property.
The city has held meetings to ask the public what it prefers. The large majority of requests, following a presentation by an experienced boatyard operator, favored a long-term land lease and a commercial haulout facility – a possibly inconvenient truth for both COBI and WSF.
It remains to be seen what will happen. Are WSF and the city operating in good faith? Do they truly wish to fulfill the MOA and the community’s expressed interest? Or is this another of those requests for public input at the end of which the public will be ignored?
Those who worked to secure the 1974 Shoreline Hearing Board decision, which restricted that shorefront “forever” for use as a community-accessible boatyard, urge COBI and WSF to do their best to restore the site.
There are hundreds of Bainbridge boat owners and more in nearby boating communities. It’s time to retrieve those jobs and sales tax revenues currently going to Seattle and Port Townsend for boat maintenance. It’s part of our character, part of our history and a good business move.