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Harper Dock curfew will stay

Although earlier this month it appeared there might be enough support to modify a recently imposed curfew at the Harper Dock Fishing Pier, on Tuesday the Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners declined to vote on a change and left the nightly ban in place.

At the board meeting Aug. 10, Commissioners Bill Mahan and Mary Ann Huntington appeared split on whether to enact a staff recommendation presented by Chief Operating Officer Tim Thomson that would allow licensed fisherman to use the pier late at night, but still prohibit use by the general public from 10 p.m. until dawn.

“I think the staff outlined a good compromise,” Mahan said at the time, while Huntington said she was very concerned about the nearby residents getting enough sleep during the “key early morning hours” if people were still allowed even limited access to the pier.

However, in the two weeks that passed before Tuesday’s meeting, Thomson said Mahan spent “a considerable amount of his own time researching the issue and changed his mind.”

Huntington said she went began the meeting Tuesday assuming it would be another tie vote — Board President Cheryl Kincer, who could not provide the third vote Aug. 10, was also absent Tuesday — but said Mahan changed his position after visiting the pier himself at night and the commissioners were “bombarded with new e-mails from homeowners.”

“We felt the homeowners deserved the quiet time,” Huntington said, explaining that the board also felt that enforcing a rule requiring fishing licenses at night would place an undue burden on the Port’s staff and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re sorry we couldn’t please everyone, and no one here is anti-fisherman,” she continued. “But we had to make a decision.”

Huntington said the curfew will stay in place until further notice, and the board plans to install signs that detail the rules in several more languages.

The board imposed the curfew June 21 to stem an increase in complaints about rowdiness, vandalism and other incidents at the pier. Once the curfew was imposed, however, Thomson said the board began receiving several e-mails and faxes from people disappointed that the pier was closed so early, and scheduled a study session to allow the commissioners to hear directly from the public.

Both residents and fishermen addressed the board at the hearing July 27, with each group painting vastly different pictures of the pier at night.

The fishermen claimed to be quiet and respectful, while the residents claimed the fishermen are typically loud and rude, often hogging parking, tossing booze bottles and urinating in their yards.

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