Lease gives Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association boathouse new location

PORT ANGELES — The city of Port Angeles has inked a lease with the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association that will allow the club to move its boathouse from damaged pilings on Ediz Hook to a new location about 800 feet to 900 feet to the west.

The city will charge $1 per year for the waterfront space at 1500 Ediz Hook Road, which is between the McKinley mill and the current boathouse location at 1431 Ediz Hook Road.

Under the terms of the 20-year-lease, the club must provide a recreational benefit to the city and use the property as a rowing facility, Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat has said.

Dr. Scott Kennedy, chair of the nine-member OPRA board, said Tuesday the club has 60 days to move the building once it receives a final permit from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Kennedy said he anticipated state approval by the end of this week.

“We are excited to get the move finalized and are working final details with our building mover, Jeff Monroe of Monroe House Moving Inc.,” said Kennedy, the chief medical officer at Olympic Medical Center.

The Port Angeles City Council approved the land lease agreement with OPRA on its consent agenda Feb. 5.

Last summer, McKinley Paper Co. agreed to remove one of two lots from a 1967 lease signed by its predecessor, Crown Zellerbach Corp., to accommodate the rowing club. The parcel, which had not been used for mill operations, provides shoreline access to Port Angeles Harbor and room for OPRA to expand.

“To make this property a reality, McKinley Paper Co. generously worked with the city for approximately a year to amend their original Crown Zellerbach lease agreement to give the City Lease Lot No. 2 back so that the property could be used by OPRA,” Delikat said in a memo to the council.

The city rented the boathouse to OPRA from 2009 to 2018.

After a winter storm caused “substantial damage” to the pilings that hold up the structure in 2017, the city posted a no occupancy notice on the building, Delikat said.

“Because of environmental concerns, the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association (OPRA) was willing to move the building onto shore,” Delikat said.

The building was surplussed to OPRA in 2018 because it had no value to the city and would be expensive to demolish and haul away, Delikat said.

OPRA is now based in a temporary location at The Landing mall, thanks to mall owner and rower Erik Marks, OPRA head coach Debby Swinford said Tuesday.

“We’ve been able to have a masters and youth program,” Swinford said, adding that the club has grown from about 10 to more than 50 athletes in recent years.

An OPRA team qualified for the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in 2017.

Last year, the club’s Sean Halberg and Ivana Bacanovic medaled at the USRowing Masters National Championships. OPRA, a nonprofit, has held fundraisers to raise an estimated $100,000 needed for the move and repairs to the building.

For information on OPRA or to donate, click on www.parowing.org.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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