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Beach is for the public -- if you can get to it

"The Port of Bremerton just got a little bigger.The Port Commissioners have unanimously approved the $16,000 purchase of 202 feet of shoreline adjacent to Bay Street in downtown Port Orchard.This purchase is an investment that insures public access to the waterfront, said Commissioner Bill Mahan. The sale includes the tidelands, Mahan said, which isn't a typical occurrence in waterfront property sales.Although the land isn't buildable and is hard to get to on foot, it's a significant chunk of tideland for just plain old public use, said Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington. She said the short stretch of beach, with its white sand, is ideal for picnics or for anyone who just wants to sit when the tide is out. When you realize that so much of Washington's property is already in private hands, the price was just right for that much tideland, she said.The port plans to purchase the property from Hood Canal Land Trust, a statewide, non-profit agency based in Mason County. According to port officials, the trust wanted to sell the shoreline to the port so it would be saved from development. They could sell it at a much higher rate to a developer, said port executive director Dick Brandenburg. But they don't want that. Access to the beach is difficult, at best. The beach is east of Port Orchard Marina Park and stands between a private residence-previously owned by Jesse Smith, a former Port Orchard City Council member-and an apartment complex.The city has no-parking signs along the street above the beach. When looking from there down the slope toward the beach, the hillside is filled with stickerbushes. The slope is the only direct route toward the rocky shore when the tide is up. Brandenburg said there isn't any on-site access to the shoreline.Though the commissioners and their staff say the purchase makes sense, they aren't certain what will happen with private property separating the park and the beach.I suspect that sometime in the future, the port will own property that ties together the port's existing property on Bay Street, Mahan said.This is too good of an opportunity to pass up, Brandenburg said. He explained the acquisition makes sense geographically, and the port can facilitate the site for recreational use. The (site) would be a kayaker's dream. It has a nice, smooth, sandy beach with calm water, he said. The $16,000 approved Feb. 8 for the purchase will be taken from the port's general fund.There is a linear connection between this piece of property and the marina park and the Port Orchard Marina, with the exception of the residential properties, said deputy executive director Ken Attebury. The prospect of connecting those properties is good. This is a long-range acquisition."

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