PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners approved in a split vote a continued right of entry agreement with the Navy for use of the Mats Mats boat launch.
The agreement starts on Jan. 4, 2021, after the initial agreement made in 2016 expires, and will be in place until January 2026, unless port officials terminate it with 30-days notice to the Navy.
The commissioners approved the agreement at their Wednesday afternoon meeting in a 2-1 vote with district 2 and 3 commissioners Bill Putney and Pete Henke voting in favor of the agreement, and district 1 commissioner Pam Petranek voting against it.
The agreement allows the Navy a right to enter by land or by coastal/shore areas at any time for military training purposes, the agreement said.
Petranek wanted more time for the commission to garner public comment — as there was none submitted for Wednesday’s meeting, when the 2016 discussion had some — and to ask the Navy questions about the use of the ramp and what role it may play in a “bigger picture,” such as the Navy asking several state parks in the Puget Sound for access for SEAL training, she said.
“I have a list of questions from constituents and I would like to have those questions answered or addressed by the Navy,” Petranek said. “I feel that even though they’re asking for one little thing, this is part of a bigger picture that must be considered.
“The contact is due to be renewed in January, so I feel that we should take the time to look at this as part of a bigger picture.”
In the Navy’s request to the commissioners, it asked for a decision by July 15.
“That really doesn’t give us an opportunity to have another meeting about this unless we’re just going to outright say ‘no’,” Putney said. “My view of this and what they want for Mats Mats, I think it is very nice that they asked, but they didn’t have to, it’s a public access boat ramp and parking lot.
“They could just do it.”
Putney said he understood that some people do not want to see the military using public facilities.
“I think that is a very short-sighted myopic perspective,” he said. “We are a very isolated county, we really don’t have much in the way of access and I think there will be a time in the future when we’ll need all the friends we can get and the Navy is likely one of the ones we will count on.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.