Boat ramp compromise should benefit everyone

Call it a shotgun wedding if you like, but the deal between Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton to lease the Water Street boat launch is clearly a win for both parties — and more importantly, for the community as a whole.

Over the years, the ramp had fallen into severe disrepair, due mainly to its being used by commercial interests like the local tribes and SAFE Boats International to launch much larger vessels than the structure was ever intended to accommodate.

City officials were negotiating with SAFE Boats over the cost and responsibility for making the repairs when the company was sold last fall, and the new ownership made clear that it wouldn’t pick up the tab after all.

Moreover, SAFE Boats threatened to move its 300 jobs — and the additional 300 it plans to add soon — if a plan to repair the ramp wasn’t in place by Jan. 24.

Having been turned down by the company that damaged the ramp, Port Orchard officials sought help from the Port of Bremerton, from whom SAFE Boats leases space in its South Kitsap Industrial Area.

The port commissioners initially agreed to pony up the $400,000 it would take to fix the ramp, but only if the city turned over ownership of the property on which it sits.

When the city refused, it set the stage for last week’s compromise, whereby the port agreed to lease the ramp for $1 a year and underwrite the repairs.

It’s a deal that benefits everyone. The city gets its ramp repaired at no cost to itself while still retaining ownership of the property, the port keeps a valued client in the fold by upgrading the local infrastructure — as it is responsible for doing — and SAFE Boats gets an upgraded ramp without having to pay for it or relocate from South Kitsap.

Kudos to those involved for setting aside the traditional — and in many cases understandable — animosity between the city and the port to do the right thing.

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