PORT ANGELES — The long-awaited mooring floats that were removed in 2012 and that had been predicted to return to City Pier by June should be deployed around mid-August, Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said.
The exact date is the “million-dollar question,” Delikat said, one that he fields often from eager kayakers and boaters.
Still, he’s certain of a summer homecoming.
“We’ll get them this summer, and they’ll be in this summer,” Delikat said.
If Topper Industries Inc. installs the five floats in August, they’ll likely be removed in October, Delikat said. A sixth east float will come in summer 2018 if all goes according to plan.
“Everybody’s really excited,” he said. “When we had to take them out [in 2012], a lot of people were pretty bummed out about it.”
The floats provided public access to City Pier by kayakers and others. For instance, the tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain used to dock in Port Angeles each summer to offer rides and tours but haven’t been able to do so since the floats were removed.
Five mooring floats were removed from City Pier in 2012 because they were decayed beyond repair. Over the years, several attempts to replace the floats were delayed.
In late 2015, Delikat said he hoped the docks would return when the city was awarded a $257,900 federal boating infrastructure grant, which would pay for about 75 percent of estimated costs, according to an April 4 city council memo.
The remaining 25 percent of costs, $92,250, would come from real estate excise taxes. The council approved that amount in 2015.
Again, Delikat expected the floats to be installed in 2016, he said. However, the permitting process with the Army Corps of Engineers took longer than expected, Delikat said.
“This definitely is going to delay the project to the point where we won’t get it this year,” Delikat said May 27, 2016.
On Feb. 9, the Army Corps of Engineers gave the city the permit — and in effect, the green light for the project.
City Manager Dan McKeen awarded the contract to the lowest bid, Topper Industries Inc. in Woodland, for $194,365 and an additional sum not to exceed $75,000 for a sixth east float. Because the bid came in lower than costs estimated in 2015, McKeen also approved the purchase of an additional float.
Delikat and Port Angeles City Council members expected to replace the floats in May 2017, estimating eight to 10 weeks from the award date. Then, Delikat believed it would be 10 to 12 weeks, he said. Since receiving the bid, Delikat has been wading through the formal process of accepting the bid and then waiting on an email from Topper Industries for the set date of installation, he said.
But this time, August is a “firm” replacement date, Delikat said, noting that Topper Industries sent a “very frank email” on Friday with a time frame penned out.
Anticipating floats’ return
The Feiro Marine Life Center is especially eager for the floats’ return, Executive Director Melissa Williams said.
Back in 2012, students at the center would lie flat on the piers, dangling plankton nets along the sides. A closer inspection on and around the floats revealed hundreds of little creatures such as amphipods.
“It’s been so long since we had the floating docks, none of the staff currently working here have ever seen them in action,” Williams said.
Jim Jewell, who volunteered at the center in 2012, recalls using the floats as a “teachable monument” for marine life.
He would obtain specimens and kelp from the piers, and tell any curious children what he was doing peering into the water like that.
“Being just above the water level, it’s a great way to catch jellyfish and other critters as they float by,” Jewell said.
Depending on when the floats can be installed, the Feiro Marine Life Center may use them for summer camp programs, like underwater robotics, in partnership with NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary educators.
Like Jewell, Williams considers proximity to marine life, which will inevitably attach onto the floats, one of the greatest benefits of the floats.
“Habitat will be closer to us,” Williams said. “Anything that goes into the water becomes a home to someone.”
Reporter Sarah Sharp can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.