Port of Manchester set to add parking

State grant will expand number of spaces at boat launch.

Unless you have flippers or wings, you likely will need to find a place to park before floating out on the water. Unfortunately, parking has been in short supply for a long time at one of South Kitsap’s most popular boat launches.

“Parking is at a premium,” said Alan Fletcher, general manager of the Manchester Water District, who works hand in hand with the Port of Manchester, the owner of the boat launch near the end of Main Street in downtown Manchester.

“The No. 1 topic of concern from the community regarding port facilities is parking,” Fletcher continued, explaining that several surveys conducted of local residents kept ranking the lack of parking at the top.

To solve the problem, the port set out to acquire nearby property that Fletcher said only went on the market earlier this year. For the necessary funds, he said the port applied for a Boating Facility Grant through the state’s Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO).

“The Port of Manchester boat launch has become severely limited in its ability to serve the public by a lack of parking for boaters that use the facilities,” the port detailed in its press release announcing that it’s poised to receive a $577,447 grant from the RCO.

The official grantees will not be announced until later this month, but Fletcher said since the office likely has enough money to cover the top five applicants, the port’s No. 3 ranking on the list bodes well.

“It was a competitive grant process, and the port ranked 3 out of 20,” Fletcher said, explaining that the port hired a grant writer to develop its application.

If the port ultimately receives the targeted grant, it will cover 75 percent of the costs of acquiring a plot of adjacent property and developing 16 additional boat/trailer parking spaces there. Fletcher said the property currently holds a single-family residence.

“We felt that the urgency to move forward is great, and that our community will be well served by the expanded facilities,” said Commissioner Jim Strode, quoted in the port’s release. “I could not be more thrilled over this award, since the the site is for sale and we have seen similar property quickly swept up by developing condominiums.”

Strode also said he had “been authorized to enter into purchase discussions with the seller” of the property.

According to the port, it’s boat launch is the “only public launch facility available for over 10 miles to the south and over five miles to the north east,” and it “averages over 73 launches” on a typical day during the summer. The port’s facilities attract boaters, anglers, crabbers and tourists from across the region, and along with the boat launch, offer access to tidelands, picnic areas and a restroom.

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