Jefferson County grants money for Port Townsend waterfront revamp project
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The Esplanade project will convert this area of Quincy Street at the old ferry landing from a trashbin repository. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners have approved a $450,000 grant to the city of Port Townsend to complete the Waterfront Esplanade Improvement Project.

“This project is critical for the revitalization of local business and tourism,” County Administrator Philip Morley told commissioners Tuesday.

“Tourism and retail activity in downtown Port Townsend is one of the economic drivers for the entire county.”

The city project, expected to be finished in the spring, includes the reconstruction of the Quincy Street turnaround, a seawall, a brick-and-grass plaza, a paved parking area, rain gardens, lighted posts and a rebuilt access road between the new parking lot and Quincy Street.

The renovation of the Quincy dock, which is now owned by the Port of Port Townsend, is not included in the project.

The money, which will be paid upon submission of invoices, comes from the county’s Public Infrastructure Fund rebate.

The fund is a state program that rebates to distressed counties sales tax monies earmarked for the support of projects that have an economic benefit.

The county receives about $320,000 a year from the fund, with half the amount allocated to the Port Hadlock Waste Treatment Facility, Morley said.

The county could allocate $450,000 toward the city project because there was a fund balance, Morley said.

The Public Infrastructure Fund board in November recommended that commissioners approve the grant.

The board — consisting of representatives of the county commissioners, the Port Townsend City Council, Port of Port Townsend and Jefferson County Public Utility District, along with three citizen representatives — approved the allocation in November.

The city project is the third phase of a $1.5 million renovation that included the Madison Street Plaza, completed in 2011, and the construction of a waterfront seawall and sidewalk in 2012.

The second phase paved over the Tidal Bowl, once intended as a piece of public art before it became a repository for flotsam and jetsam.

The total cost for the third phase is $600,000. In addition to the money from the county, it is funded by a 2008 city bond and the city stormwater fund.

The area is adjacent to the Clam Cannery. The land underneath Quincy Street is now degrading because clamshells were used as landfill underneath the pavement, according to City Manager David Timmons.

The shells will be removed, and fill will be used to shore up the pavement, Timmons said.

The grant expires at the end of 2017, but the project schedule calls for completion in the first half of this year.

The grant relieves some pressure on the city, Morley said.

“This funding allows the city to bill staff time to the grant and frees up city dollars that it can use to support projects like the pool,” Morley said.

Mountain View Pool, Port Townsend’s only public swimming pool, was closed for repairs in November.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 22. 2013 5:52PM
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