The anticipated redevelopment of Lakebay Marina won’t happen overnight, but planners suggest community input matters.
The first community outreach meeting, led by Associate Planner Beth Batchelder of Seattle based MAKERS Architecture and Urban Design, was held via Zoom June 14. Community members, some of whom live in the residential neighborhood that surrounds Lakebay Marina, expressed keen interest, concerns and ideas that provided a view into the complexities of redevelopment.
The marina was purchased by the Department of Natural Resources and the Recreational Boaters Association of Washington in 2021 with the goal of addressing environmental concerns, preserving the history and providing recreational opportunities. The redevelopment project partners include DNR, RBAW and its Marine Parks Conservancy, as well as Washington State Parks.
The Washington State Legislature recently allocated $1.3 million in the 2023-25 capital budget for next steps in the redevelopment project.
“One of the biggest issues is really addressing the issues that have arisen from an aging facility — health, safety and code compliance,” Batchelder said.
There are parts of the site clearly in poor condition. The seawall is deteriorating, so there are plans to restore native vegetation to restabilize the beach there. The hard armoring of the pier will need to be replaced with soft armoring to restore that habitat. The boat launch needs to be replaced. All the restoration will be accounting for sea level rise.
“And we don’t want to forget the rich history as many of you have known it dating back to 1884, highlighting the pivotal role of the Mosquito Fleet and the Washington Cooperative Egg and Poultry Association,” she said.
“This has been a great space for the community, so much so that it’s on the state register of historic places as well as Pierce County. This project is really intended to highlight and preserve that rich history.”
Glencove resident Carl Albrecht said he’s been using the marina for years and “actually tried to buy it at one point to redevelop it with a neighbor who similary bought a run-down pier in Gig Harbor and turned it into kind of an institution.”
Albrecht listed his suggestions and priorities in order, with No. 1 being the fuel dock, followed by a restaurant, temporary moorage, a faster timeline, and preserving the old-time feel, including the plank dock and building. He said he doesn’t care about the boat ramp as there are more suitable places in the area, a point that other community members present agreed with. Lastly, Albrecht listed keeping the emphasis on marine access to keep the community from having too many cars on the roadway.
Home resident Cathy Williams, who worked with former marina owner Mark Scott to gain historical status from both the state and Pierce County, said her concern was that the marina be kept as it is, as much as possible, but improved. “There are a lot of people, I think, who are very interested in making sure the integrity of the building and site is maintained.”
Dr. William Roes said his interest includes a desire to save both buildings on the site, specifically the little white house on the uplands that once served as a doctor’s office during the 1930s and where some of his patients were delivered as babies.
“I have a number of pictures, a really cool one of the doctor standing there with his family with a cigarette in hand.”
Neighbor Anne Nesbit said the frontage road along the water is collapsing and with increased traffic volume, anything new needs to consider road improvement as much a part of the planning as preserving the building.
“It is a great treasure we have that needs to be preserved but it’s in the middle of a neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not in a commercial marina district. I really want that to be at the forefront of everybody’s planning.”
DNR Aquatic Policy Analyst Brittney Poirson said, that from the agency’s perspective, “We’re going to do everything we can to save the building, but as you know, it’s an extremely expensive redesign. We’re exploring a lot of funding possibilities to save that because DNR as an entity would not be able to pay outright for something like that. It would have to be a capital budget request and that’s what we’re exploring now.”
Brad Ginn, project manager for Bremerton-based Art Anderson, an engineering firm with extensive experience in challenging marine environments, was hired for the redevelopment project. He said if the building were structurally unsound it would be a lot harder to renovate and preserve.
“Based on the inspection we did, it looks like it’s actually in surprisingly good shape, so that kind of lends toward trying to preserve it,” he said. “Whether or not it’s going to be kept as an alternative is what we’re analyzing, and public input is a big factor in determining if that’s going to be the case.”
Before moving forward with design decisions, Ginn said they will be showing alternative designs, both with and without the building, for public input.
The Lakebay Marina Redevelopment Project is hosting an open house July 7 at nearby Lakebay Community Church from 5 to 7 p.m. and will also have an information booth July 8 at Key Pen Parks Summer Family Fun Fest at Gateway Park.
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