Harper eyesore being removed

A two-man crew began removing contaminated pilings Thursday near the end of the Harper Fishing Pier. - Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo
A two-man crew began removing contaminated pilings Thursday near the end of the Harper Fishing Pier.
— image credit: Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo

This week, a crew began removing one of the last pieces that remained to prove the Washington State Ferries once docked in Harper.

Monica Shoemaker, a project manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the crew removing creosote pilings from several Kitsap County beaches and tidelands was headed to Harper Estuary Wednesday night.

“They are mobilizing their barge tonight, and should begin removing the pilings Thursday,” Shoemaker said, adding that she expected the work to continue through today.

The pilings — which actually made up the wing walls/dolphins for the old WSF dock — were originally scheduled to be removed last week, but Shoemaker said the crew decided to take advantage of high tides and work in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island instead.

“When the tides are low, it dries out, so when the tides were the highest, they headed there,” she said.

In fact, Shoemaker said nearly all of the creosote-treated debris and pilings were scheduled to be removed from Bainbridge Island locations like Tolo Lagoon, Battle Point, Port Madison, Murden Cove and Fay Bainbridge.

However, “there were some citizens in Harper who expressed interest in having pilings removed,” she said.

Charles Hower, who lives on Southworth Drive and walks by the old pilings every day, said he “raised the issue with DNR” and the group responded quickly to his request.

“We like to get out as much of the debris as possible,” Shoemaker said, and since harper was very close to where DNR had already planned projects, “we worked quickly to get the permits and include Harper.”

Hower said part of the WSF dock was repurposed into the the existing Harper Fishing Pier, but the old dolphins were never removed.

The removal of pilings needs to be completed before Feb. 28, when the “fish window” closes. In March, Shoemaker said the group will be cleaning beaches on Blake Island.

On Thursday, the crew attracted much of the nearby residents out to the pier to watch the proceedings with Shoemaker, who oversees the action as part of her job.

By the afternoon, Shoemaker said the crew had removed about half of the old dolphin already, and the rest would be gone by Friday.

The contractor is Lake Shore Marine Construction, Inc., from Mukilteo, which will receive $196,383 for their work, according to the DNR.

The projects came about thanks to a partnership between Kitsap County, Port of Bremerton, the city of Bainbridge Island, Washington State Parks and private landowners.

The DNR reports that there are hundreds of thousands of derelict creosote pilings throughout Puget Sound, many of which have broken off and distributed tons of debris onto beaches. It describes creosote as a toxic chemical and a known carcinogen that can be harmful, even lethal, to many marine species, salmon, herring, and the birds and mammals that eat them.

“These localized cleanup projects can have a big impact on the overall health of Puget Sound,” said Peter Goldmark, commissioner of Public Lands. “Pulling creosote pilings before they break off and create hazards for boaters will improve safety for recreational users as well.”

So far, nearly 200 pilings were removed within Eagle Harbor and Port Madison.

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