Port and County join citizens in commitment to Harper Pier

Everyone is in agreement. Save the Harper Fishing Pier.

But just how to save it is the big question.

More than 50 South Kitsap residents attended a meeting to discuss the future of the pier at the Colby United Methodist Church Friday night.

The meeting, hosted by the commissioners from the Port of Bremerton and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, served dual purposes. It allowed residents to voice their commitment to the community pier and it gave Port of Bremerton officials an opportunity to explain the problems and possible steps the Port needs to take in order to save an aging pier.

“The Harper Pier is very important to us,” said Port Commissioner Larry Stokes. “We’re here to tell you about the problems we have. We want to listen to you.”

Originally built in the 1880s and renovated periodically, the pier’s wood components are now at the end of their useful life according to engineers that have inspected the pier, said the Port’s director of facilities, Stave Slaton.

Tiny organisms have eaten away at the wood pilings, causing the pier, which the Port leases from the state Department of Natural Resources, to lose its load bearing capacity.

“These marine borers get in to the wood pilings and eat away,” Slaton said.

Slaton said there were four possible routes for the Port to take; do nothing, repair the pier using existing components, replace the pier in increments or totally replace the pier.

Replacement of the pier would cost somewhere between $1 and $1.5 million, Slaton said. The Port planned to apply for a $500,000  Aquatic Lands Grant, and was investigating other opportunities such as legislative support and help from DNR.

“Funding is a problem of course,” Slaton said.

After outlining the problems and possible solutions, Slaton took questions and comments from the audience. Nearly everyone who spoke voiced their support for the pier and the commitment to doing what it took to keep the pier, which is a popular spot for divers, fisherman, squid fisherman and people who enjoy a scenic stroll.

“That pier is so popular,” said South Kitsap resident Donita Davies. “People are out there on it even when it’s snowing.”

Robert Roosendaal said his grandfather helped build the original pier, which served as a dock for Mosquito Fleet steamboats. He said the pier served as a fishing and diving spot throughout his childhood.

“From my standpoint it’s more of sentimental in my memories than anything else,” he said. “I don’t want to lose that. I’m anxious because of repairs.”

Community members asked Slaton and the port commissioners what they could do to help secure as much money as possible. Slaton encouraged individuals to write the Port. Letters and emails could be used to help secure funding, he said.

Pier lovers nodded in agreement.

“It is absolutely essential that if you want this pier, you will write the port commissioners,” said Norm Reinhardt, the President of the Kitsap County Poggie Club, a nonprofit organization that promotes family-oriented outdoor water activities.

Some residents expressed concern that in an era of tough-to-find funding and bureaucratic maneuvering, Port and county support for keeping the pier might fall by the wayside. But as the meeting drew to a close, Stokes again reaffirmed his commitment to finding a way to fix and keep the Haper pier.

“It will be removed over my dead body,” Stokes said. “The port commission and the county will do absolutely everything in our power not to lose that landmark.”


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