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Marina tenants still have safety concerns

Two Port Orchard Marina tenants who expressed concern to the Port of Bremerton Board of commissioners last month regarding crime and what they feel is a general lack of security said last week that little had changed.

“I have met with (marina director) Steve Slaton in the past week and it was a positive meeting. But I am back here because I think not enough is being done,” said Tim McCormick, a live-aboard who owns Action Bail Bonds on Bay Street.

McCormick first addressed the board last month about his concerns regarding security in and around the marina, which he described as a steady stream of theft, graffiti, trespassing and drug activity.

At the subsequent meeting on Jan. 8, McCormick said he saw little, if any, improvement.

“Leaving the problem up to the police is ineffective at best,” he said, explaining that within the past week two men were arrested during the day for allegedly painting graffiti on the grounds — and one of whom reportedly pulled a knife on a port maintenance worker when confronted.

Slaton confirmed the incident involving the suspected graffiti artists, and said his staff is still working “hand-in-hand with the Port Orchard Police Department.

“There were a number of concerns expressed by tenants, and I met with POPD Chief Al Townsend,” Slaton said. “The POPD is “very much aware that there is a crime problem in the area surrounding the marina, and its officers spend a lot of their time responding to calls to the area, including the parking lot and businesses.”

Slaton said his staff expressed concern about illegal activities occurring on the port’s observation dock, and explained that “the POPD agreed to close that off after dark, though we are still waiting for signs to be posted.”

Slaton said Townsend also agreed to increase the number of patrols in the area.

As for solving the general security problem, Slaton said he was “committed,” and pointed to the fact that when he came on as director, the marina had only one security camera, and now it has four.

However, he did admit that the cameras “cannot look everywhere at once, and the cameras’ nighttime recording is very limited.”

In response to the claim that undesirables were being allowed to enter the marina and others were propping the gates open and leaving marina tenants and their boats vulnerable, Slaton said there were limits to how he and his staff could enforce the rules.

“We try and keep an eye on folks, but we can’t judge people on appearance, (nor) bar them from the marina,” he said, adding that said he would be looking into providing more of a security presence in the area.

Commissioner Larry Stokes asked if the port could provide private, hired security officers for the marina, then “adjust the tenants’ rates accordingly.”

Marina tenant Russ Bednorz then addressed the port, explaining that his boat was burglarized Nov. 15 and he still did not feel his concerns had been dealt with adequately.

“Communication is the key, and we need some kind of way to alert other tenants when these incidents occur,” Bednorz said, explaining that his requests to post or otherwise disseminate information had been denied. “The only way to protect yourself (in these situations) is to self-police, and washing everything under the rug is not a good way to do things.”

When a third member of the audience, who insisted on remaining anonymous, asked the board if there was a plan of action regarding the tenants’ concerns about marina security, Board President Cheryl Kincer said it was being developed, and the staff was being asked to address the concerns and come back with recommended actions for addressing the situation.

Last month, Chief Townsend confirmed he met with Slaton to discuss the issue and potential solutions.

“I am working with (Slaton) to increase our patrols,” Townsend said, but “realistically, there is not a dramatic spike in calls that I’m aware of.”

As far as inside the marina, he said, “We get calls about wild parties on boats and loud music,” and that there is theft, but “we get burglaries everywhere.”

When it comes to the parking lot, however, Townsend acknowledged there is cause for concern.

“We do walkthroughs now, but we’re going to make more of an appearance now,” he said. “The port asked if it would be a good idea to hire private security, but my suggestion was to wait and see if we can help them before they spend the money for that.”

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