By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Black Ball Ferry Line Marketing Manager Ryan Malane gave an overview of the privately financed project at a Port Angeles Business Association breakfast meeting Tuesday.
Participants also explored the Black Ball-owned Coho's economic-growth potential as a carrier of 400,000 passengers annually between Port Angeles and Victoria.
The get-together included pledges of closer events-planning between the cities.
Malane and PABA members said they are anxious for Port Angeles businesses to get involved in enticing car enthusiasts who are on their way to the July 19-21 Northwest Deuce Days to stay awhile in Port Angeles.
About 800 devotees of the 1932 Ford coupe — a vehicle made culturally iconic by the Beach Boys' 1963 classic “Little Deuce Coupe” — are expected to come from throughout the U.S. and Canada to showcase their prize cars at Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Meeting participants also discussed encouraging Victoria-area residents to attend the 20th annual Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts from May 24-27 and the 12th annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival from Oct. 11-13.
They also talked about trying to get bicycle groups from Port Angeles and Victoria to take excursions to each other's area as part of planned, group-oriented excursions.
PABA President Don Perry, owner of Heritage Tours, was to meet later Tuesday with Port Angeles resident George Bergner, a recreational bicyclist, and Terry Neske, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Port Angeles, to flesh out ideas for the bike tours.
The 1,000-passenger Coho adds $45 million to the North Olympic Peninsula's economy, up from $41 million in 2010, Malane said.
The ferry, which has additional sailings from May 16 to Sept. 22 that allow for day trips and is shut down for maintenance for two weeks in the winter, carries an increasing number of Canadian passengers.
Canadians make up 39 percent of all passengers, up from 20 percent about 20 years ago, Malane said.
One draw is the duty-free rules that went into effect June 1, which quadrupled the allowance to up to $200 for trips of between 24 and 48 hours and doubled it to up to $800 for stays of more than 48 hours.
Ferry traffic now accounts for 25 percent to 35 percent of all hotel stays in the area, Malane said.
New concrete pier
He said the deteriorating wooden dock where the Coho berthed has been replaced with a sturdier concrete pier.
Improvements that will be completed by the end of April also include a canopy addition to the Customs-check area near the south terminal building, which has been repainted but will not be replaced in the near future, Malane said.
A 40-inch-tall barrier has been added to the outer edge of the dock to provide a windbreak for passengers as they wait for and walk to and from the larger north terminal building, where the ferry takes on and disembarks passengers.
Improvements also will include new lighting and fencing in the terminal area, but the new dock — the biggest and most expensive component of the project — will not be so obvious to casual observers, Malane said.
“It will be the greatest improvement nobody sees,” he said.
“It will all be under their feet.”
Black Ball also is adding new landscaping at the Boat Haven, which is operated by the Port of Port Angeles.
The company, which leases the site from the port under a 30-year agreement, added the landscaping as a condition contained in Black Ball's state Department of Ecology permit.
The site's east pier will be rebuilt by 2015.
'Get Off the Rock'
Malane said Black Ball has joined with the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission to sponsor a “Get Off the Rock” campaign for Vancouver Island residents to come to the Port Angeles area and Seattle and Portland, Ore.
“People don't know where we are,” Malane said.
“That means we haven't built brand awareness.
“This year, we decided to go all out.”
The “Get Off the Rock” campaign debuted Tuesday on the Coho's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mvcoho.
Perry began the meeting Tuesday by recounting a visit he and PABA members Andrew May and Ed Bedford took to Victoria along with Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman to discuss shared tourism opportunities.
They met with Ken Kelly, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, and Robert Cross, the city's former mayor.
They were joined by Ryan Burles, a Black Ball co-owner and president, and Malane, also a co-owner.
They discussed concentrating on a few key events rather than “throwing out a lot of ideas and seeing what sticks,” Perry said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.