State budget includes funds for pier work

The Washington State Legislature set aside $700,000 in the budget agreement announced on Wednesday to turn Port Orchard’s De Kalb Street Pier, near the Lighthouse Restaurant, into a working dock.

“We know that we have to upgrade the pier to make it functional,” said Mark Dorsey, the city’s engineer. “Getting the appropriation allows us to work on the design.”

The float was originally designed as a dock for boats when in was constructed in the 1970s.

It fell into disuse through the years, and today it sits unusable in the mud at low tide.

To fix it, the city plans to extend a non-floating pier north until a floating dock can be attached to the end, sitting in seven feet of water at its shallowest point.

The seven feet ensures boats won’t be grounded during extremely low tides, and it’s a requirement by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The city currently leases the dock from DNR, which has said it won’t extend the lease past 2013 unless the city fixes the dock.

The city initially requested $950,000 from the state to cover design, permitting and part of the construction cost.

The plan was to seek grant money for the rest.

The city has considered a public-private partnership with owners of property next to the pier, where the Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge is located, to cover remaining costs.

The full appropriation was approved in an initial draft of the budget by the Senate earlier this spring, but $250,000 was cut during negotiations with the house.

Briahna Taylor, Port Orchard’s lobbyist to the state Legislature, said many budget items were cut during the negotiations, and most of those that remained got cut by a bit.

Capital construction projects like this ranked as high priorities for the state’s budget, said 26th District Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, who chairs the Senate’s Capital Budget Committee.

“If you’re really going to have this economy recover, you have to start with the recovery of our construction industry,” he said. “We started a conversation about trying to move toward getting a bit more investment out the door this biennium, but agreed that it should be tied to something to reuce debt over the long haul.”

Kilmer deserves a lot of credit for the getting the funding, Taylor said.

“Sen. Kilmer was the most influential out of our delegation,” she said.

Other local representatives supported it, she added, but “Kilmer was in a key position to move it forward.”

The city had originally wanted money for land acquisitions to build a parking garage downtown, but since those types of projects weren’t getting much traction this yeark, the city’s lobbying firm changed gears to request funding for the pier.



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