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Law aides Ports, Harper Pier

Community service organizations can now help maintain and improve port lands, including the Harper Pier in South Kitsap.

A bill spearheaded by Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was signed into law March 30, making it legal for port districts to contract with community service organizations without the complications of competitive bidding. The bill allows community groups to volunteer in port district projects, bypassing previous bidding requirements.

Organizations will be able to clean up port lands, beautify areas, and do other projects that otherwise help port properties, Angel said.

“It’s a win-win situation for our local communities and the ports when they are able to partner with community service organizations to improve the environment, clean up the waterways and take care of our shorelines,” said Angel.

Angel recognized a need for the bill after noting a successful partnership between the Port of Tacoma, which manages 160 acres of wildlife habitat, and the community group, Citizens for a Healthy Bay. She said the group provides volunteers to help maintain the area and initiate educational opportunities to help the community understand the importance of clean waterways.

There are 75 port districts located in 33 Washington counties that handle 7 percent of all U.S. exports and 6 percent of all imports.

The new measure could be helpful in regard to South Kitsap’s Harper Pier. The Port of Bremerton has begun looking into refurbishing the pier, a project that could cost as much as $1.5 million.

Steve Slaton, Port of Bremerton’s director of marine facilities, said the bulk of the pier work would still need to come from contracted professionals. But now community groups could find small ways to aid in the pier’s renovations.

“This is a positive step for providing a way for community groups to assist in a very expensive project,” he said. “Every little bit helps.”

The Port of Bremerton received an outpouring of support from community members during a March 16 meeting to discuss the future of Harper Pier. The Port has looked for funding to refurbish the pier, and plans to apply for a $500,000 Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account.

 

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