Port Orchard City Council OKs contract, money for additional ferry hours

Visitors to Port Orchard will have a reason to stay longer.

The Port Orchard City Council voted unanimously May 14 to approve a joint agreement with the Port of Bremerton and City of Bremerton for Kitsap Harbor Tours, Inc., to provide additional foot ferry service hours on Friday and Saturday during the summer.

According to the agreement, extended hours will begin Friday, May 24, and end Monday, Sept. 2, and Friday and Saturday hours will be extend to midnight.

The agreement also states the ferry will operate on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., along with event Sunday and holiday service.

Port Orchard’s portion of the cost is higher than the joining partners.The City allocated $9,500, while the Port is giving $5,500 and Bremerton $6,500. Cost to operate the ferry is $151 per hour.

Councilman Fred Chang said he was surprised the Port and City of Bremerton approved the agreement quicker than he expected, but they are paying less of the total cost.

“I think this will be a success if we end up paying less than what we’re allocating,” Chang said.

Councilman Rob Putaansuu asked City Clerk Brandy Rinerson to follow up with Kitsap Transit that they update the extended hours on their website.

Mayor Tim Matthes said the City would place signs about the extended summer hours.

Money for the City’s extra funding came from the Hotel/Motel Tax funding.

Earlier in the meeting, Council unanimously approved the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee’s recommendation for $3,000 for foot ferry service.

Before voting on the extra funding, Councilman Jerry Childs said he wanted to make sure everything is in place.

“I think we should do it and do it right,” he said.

Childs asked Port Orchard Bay Street Association President Don Ryan about the status of the new indoor market being built downtown.

Ryan said the funds being allocated for the ferries should not depend on the market, but help support downtown businesses.

“I don’t want this to hinge of whether the market opens in July or August,” Ryan said. “These ferries support every business downtown. It’s not just about the market.”

He said the loss of the ferries years ago devastated many downtown businesses.

“I don’t think the ferries hinge on the market, the ferries hinge on the support of the downtown business owners,” Ryan said. “Without a business core that’s successful, we don’t have a downtown core.”

Ryan said with the extended ferry hours, downtown business need to stay open longer hours for visitors.

“We can’t be closing at 6 p.m.,” he said. “If our business owners don’t support what’s being supported here and we don’t have a good unified presence of businesses downtown, then we have failed the Council.”

Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli said she would like to see how much movement is between Port Orchard and Bremerton on the foot ferries for future consideration for funding.

“Port Orchard is actually footing the bill more than Bremerton,” she said. “It would be great information in basing our decision in the future to find out if Bremerton is benefiting or are we.”

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers said she’s looking at the money as an investment.

“We’re talking about public dollars, to me this is an investment,” Powers said. “Let’s go ahead and go with it this year. If it falls flat on its face we can remedy that next year.”

Councilman John Clauson was absent from the meeting because he was out of town on business.


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