City wisely looking at all options to fix boat ramp

Port Orchard finds itself on the horns of a dilemma regarding its Water Street boat launch.

From the city’s perspective, the $400,000 required to make the necessary repairs to the structure would be a substantial expenditure — but one it would undertake if there were no other financing options and if the ramp had been damaged entirely through normal use or willful neglect.

But neither is the case.

In fact, most of the problems associated with the boat launch can be attributed to its heavy use by SAFE Boats International and local tribes, which rely on it almost daily to launch heavier, more powerful vessels than the concrete ramp was designed to accommodate.

Legally speaking, there are no restrictions on its use, so neither the company nor the tribes are required to compensate the city for the damages.

But there’s no harm in asking.

Likewise, the city council is well within its bounds to wonder why the Port of Bremerton, which has lavished tens of millions on downtown Bremerton in recent years, can’t chip in to help fund the repairs without attaching conditions to the deal — including the demand that Port Orchard transfer ownership of the ramp to the port.

Given that SAFE Boats, which leases space from the port, has plans to expand its workforce from 300 to 600 employees and won’t do so without assurances the ramp will be repaired, it’s clear someone needs to do something.

And leasing the facility to the port, as will be discussed at a Jan. 11 public meeting, could be a way to bridge the gap and split the funding burden at least two ways.

At the end of the day, there’s little question the city has an obligation to pay for some share of the repairs. But there’s also no reason it shouldn’t explore all of its options before deciding how great a share that should be.

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