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Marina in building mode

As the loud clangs from the driving of piles for the Port of Bremerton’s marina expansion echo throughout Sinclair Inlet, port officials say the best is yet to come.

Before the end of the month, the first section of the 1,440-foot breakwater will be floated into place from a construction yard in Everett through Rich Passage to their final resting place.

“By September, you should see the breakwater,” said Port of Bremerton director of marine facilities Steve Slaton. “It will be beautiful.”

The dozen 120-foot, 750-ton sections of the breakwater are being completed in Everett by McClure and Sons on the banks of the Snohomish River, where each one will be moved individually into the river and floated two miles upriver, where they will be linked together in sections of four.

Once the first four-piece section is ready to be moved, it will begin the day-and-a-half-long journey across Puget Sound to Sinclair Inlet.

Before the new breakwater completely is installed, the existing breakwater will be floated to the Port of South Whidbey Island, which purchased it from the Port of Bremerton for a project of its own.

“Everything that can possibly be reused is being recycled,” Slaton said.

The existing slips in the marina will be upgraded in place to match the new 308 slips, which will bring the marina’s capacity to 352 slips, he said.

The USS Turner Joy will be rotated 30 degrees to the north of its current position to allow for easier access for boaters entering the new marina, and the port also has found a way to address the Washington State Ferries’ security concerns as part of the project as well, he said.

“Everything has been taken care of and we should have it open by March 2008,” Slaton said.

Although the project has been accompanied by concerns about how it was funded, especially the 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax increase approved by the Port of Bremerton commissioners without going to the voters.

“It’s $4 million a year, and it sunsets in six years,” said Port Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington.

Port Chief Executive Officer Steve Atteberry said the port was able to secure grant funding from federal and state sources to fund the project in addition to the property tax increase.

Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman said it’s great to see Bremerton residents finally benefit from their years of supporting the port's activities since its inception.

“We’ve been in support of the marina at Port Orchard and the airport,” Bozeman said.

The marina expansion will be good not only for the city, but for the entire county for a couple of reasons, he said.

“It will create new jobs, and it will help bring vibrancy to the Harborside District,” he said.

The project also will aid the city’s efforts to tout the Harborside District as a waterfront community, he said.

“The port commissioners have done a great job of pulling it all together,” Bozeman said.

While the funding for the project has been widely disputed, the economic benefits of the new marina speak for themselves, Slaton said.

“It will be about $10 million a year coming in,” he said. “It’s estimated that boaters spend $163 a day visiting.”

Not only will the port benefit from the moorage fees, but the entire county will as well, he said.

“It’s estimated that every $1 spent in the marina equals $2.68 in the community,” Slaton said.

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