PORT TOWNSEND — A historic property exchange between the Port of Port Townsend and City Hall involving Kah Tai Lagoon has been set in motion with passage of a joint resolution to approve the agreement.
At the crux of the agreement, the entire Kah Tai property is transferred to the city, while City Dock and Union Wharf goes to the port.
“There are more details that need to be worked out,” Mayor David King said at the beginning of a meeting between city and port officials, “but we are on the right path.”
“We are doing this in a spirit of cooperation and trust,” said Port Commissioner Leif Erickson.
“This resolution allows us to do what we were elected to do,” he said, which is to “provide the best solution for the people of Port Townsend and Jefferson County.”
The agreement was generated by a discussion between King and newly elected Port Commissioner Steve Tucker last winter.
After several meetings, the agreement was drafted and presented to the legislative bodies.
Both unanimously approved the resolution.
Aside from the property swap, the agreement results in the port’s withdrawing a lawsuit against the city that contested use restrictions imposed by federal and state governments.
The suit withdrawal will be the last step of the agreement once all other aspects are signed, Port Director Larry Crockett said.
Crockett called the lawsuit “a hammer.”
“We will withdraw the suit after all the T’s are crossed and the I’s dotted,” Crockett said. “It will be the last thing we do.”
About 20 people attended the Monday meeting at the Cotton Building on the waterfront.
During the public comment period, four people spoke in favor of the agreement. No speakers opposed it.
“This joint agreement provides the best solution for Kah Tai,” said David Beatty, a representative of the local chapter of the Audubon Society.
“We’ve spent a lot of time fixing up the park for wildlife, and we are happy to see the dismissal of a lawsuit that puts a drain on scarce resources.”
The best-case timing for the completion of the agreement is the end of this year, Crockett said.
The port will need to surplus the Kah Tai property, which will require a public hearing.
Also occurring will be a change to the port’s comprehensive plan, which will require a public hearing.
The port and city staffs will now work together to develop a timeline that will outline all the steps for the transfer and the sequence in which they should occur.
The agreement also includes vacating some rights of way in the Boat Haven — which were termed redundant — to the port, including a portion of the former railroad corridor that is not being used for the Larry Scott Trail.
It also will clarify some nonconforming-use regulations in the Boat Haven.
This includes the development by the port of a mooring buoy field adjacent to Quincy Street Dock, which would improve boater access to downtown, staff members said.
Under the agreement, the city would abandon its claim to several rights of way near the Boat Haven, which would allow the port to develop that land.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]