OLYMPIA - The fishing dock at Point Whitney on Hood Canal will remain closed this summer while the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and a new local partner lay plans to build a new one.
The aging dock has been closed since last fall, when an engineering study found that the existing boardwalk and handrails posed a public safety risk. The nearby boat ramp is still open for public use.
Brad Sele, director of the WDFW Point Whitney Shellfish Laboratory, said repairs necessary to correct structural problems on the dock couldn't be completed before the end of the summer fishing season - even if they prove cost-effective.
"This is an old facility in a general state of disrepair," Sele said. "We haven't ruled out a temporary fix, but we know we'll need to replace the whole structure in a few years."
Toward that end, the Port of Port Townsend recently joined with WDFW in an effort to secure funding to build a new pier.
Port Director Larry Crocket said the port district will work with WDFW to prepare a grant application for submission to the state Interagency Committee on Outdoor Recreation (IAC), which allocates funds for recreational facilities throughout the state. The next round of funding will be announced next spring.
"This project fits perfectly with our mission, which includes outdoor recreation," said Jim Pivarnic, Port property manager, noting that the port district extends to northern Hood Canal. "The fishing dock at Point Whitney is a popular spot for sport anglers throughout the region, and we don't want to see that lost."
The current dock and boat ramp were built in the 1960s by the U.S. Navy to aid in testing torpedoes in Dabob Bay, Sele said. WDFW leased portions of its Point Whitney land holdings to the U.S. Navy until 2000, when the Navy vacated its lease.
If the IAC approves funding for a new dock, the project could be completed and ready for public use in 2007, Sele said. Cost estimates are still being developed, but the Port of Port Townsend's involvement in the grant process is a major asset, he said.
"The committee generally looks favorably on projects with both state and local sponsors," Sele said. "I think we will have a good chance of success during the next round of grant awards."