POPD limits access to waterfront tower

With an area that reportedly fostered illegal activities now off-limits at night and increased patrols by the Port Orchard Police Department, Port Orchard Marina officials are hoping that concerns recently raised about security for its tenants will be alleviated.

“The observation tower has a chain and sign on it now (closing it off at night),” said Steve Slaton, the Port of Bremerton’s director of marine facilities, at the most recent meeting of the port’s board of commissioners.

Both changes were made after two live-aboard tenants addressed the board in December, reporting that they had seen a disturbing rise in criminal activity in and around the marina, and were frustrated with the response they received from marina staff.

Marina resident Tim McCormick told the board that he walks from his boat to his job on Bay Street “at all hours of the night” and has firsthand knowledge of what goes on in the area, particularly the marina parking lot, which he said includes an increase in drug activity, thefts and graffiti.

McCormick and others pointed to the tower as a spot where drug use and graffiti frequently occurred.

“We’ve heard the complaints about drug activity on the observation tower,” POPD Al Townsend said, explaining after the residents complained that his department was making arrangements to close off the tower — located just east of the marina office but owned by the city — at night.

Also voicing concerns was fellow live-aboard Russ Bednorz, who said his boat was burglarized Nov. 15 and he was not satisfied with the port’s response, in particular when he requested an improved way to communicate issues and incidents to his fellow marina tenants.

“Communication is the key, and we need some kind of way to alert other tenants when these incidents occur,” Bednorz said when he and McCormick addressed the board again in January, 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.”

Asked by the board to look into the situation and report back, Slaton said last month that he and his staff had “discussed the options available,” which included hiring private security officers to patrol the marina area after hours.

However, he said the estimates he gathered on the costs were from “$60,000 to $70,000 a year, and we don’t have the money right now” for that service.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and see if it improves,” Slaton said, adding that Chief Townsend had advised his staff to wait and see if extra patrols by his officers would be enough.

Also at the meeting, Commissioner Cheryl Kincer said she wanted to present a contrasting point of view on the security at the marina voiced by another tenant.

“A woman who said she has been a marina tenant for 8 years told me that she thinks the marina staff have done a wonderful job,” Kincer said, explaining that the comments were e-mailed to her, which she then forwarded to Slaton. “She also said that she feels the majority of the problems are in the parking lot.”

As for communicating incidents to other tenants, Slaton said it was not appropriate to post such alerts on bulletin boards or other parts of the marina, but he said his staff does put such information in the marina’s regular newsletter.

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