QUILCENE — The people of Quilcene have given the Port of Port Townsend an earful.
Last spring, port officials hired a consultant to compile an independent report around the question: “If you could change the future of the Herb Beck Marina and adjacent uplands, what changes would you make?”
The marina and beach, located at the end of Linger Longer Road on the west side of Quilcene Bay, offer shrimping, boating and swimming in some of the warmest water around. There’s a day use picnic area.
But when consultant Jeannie McMacken engaged local residents in conversation about the place — through interviews and an online questionnaire — many responses were less than warm.
By mid-August, McMacken had gathered 107 responses from Quilcene households; during a special online port commission meeting last Wednesday evening, she presented a half-hour report.
“The marina is basically a derelict slum” was one of the first anonymous comments in the presentation. Residents also described the area as dirty and an embarrassment, with dock bumpers missing, cleats that are loose and a walkway that’s dangerous.
The key themes, the report noted, are that general neglect has created safety hazards at the marina; the place is off the radar when it comes to maintenance, and overall, it’s a case of unrealized potential.
“I’d like to see it enhanced, but want it to still be Quilcene,” one respondent said, speaking for several others who called for a clean, functional marina that serves locals and visitors.
Suggestions for updating the Herb Beck Marina included expanded berths, paddleboard and kayak rentals and instruction, a coffee truck on shrimping days, a store with beer, ice and bait, facilities for camping or even glamping, and a destination restaurant.
Others asked for fire extinguishers, potable water and nicer picnic tables.
The Port of Port Townsend needs to foster more economic development in the south county — “a lot more focus and effort,” another respondent said.
After the report had been delivered, several viewers spoke up to underscore that message. One was Kit Kittredge, a member of the as-yet informal Linger Longer advisory committee.
“I think we’ve explained very clearly for many years that we have the passion and the energy” to care for the marina, she said.
“We have the people. We have the bodies down here; we can show up.”
What’s needed now are money and will from the port, Kittredge said, adding she hopes the port steps up this year, not one, two, five or 10 years from now.
Port Commissioner Pete Hanke then expressed interest in forming a group of Quilcene residents to start a dialogue with port officials.
Eron Berg, the port’s executive director, said he wants to hear from those residents via [email protected]
Commissioner Pam Petranek said she’s at [email protected] and welcomes “talking to you any time.”
Bill Putney, the port commissioner who will retire at the end of the year, said he hopes for a “continuing long-term conversation” about the Herb Beck Marina’s future.
Then Carol Hasse, who is running unopposed for Putney’s seat in the Nov. 2 election, raised her hand to comment that she looks forward to that dialogue.
Berg, in a later email, said the port commission will take up the Quilcene topic again at its next meeting; that public session is set for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27. The Herb Beck Marina report will be posted at portofpt.com.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.