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Indianola dock closure met with backlash
INDIANOLA — At least one person made it clear how he or she feels about the closure of the Indianola dock. And they made it clear three times.
The fence barricading the entrance to the dock was removed three times between June 28-29. Port Commissioner Judith Frank found the barricade in her yard the morning of June 29.
"I woke up [June 29] and the barrier was on my lawn," Frank said.
Suquamish Police and Kitsap County Sheriffs were called to investigate. Because the barricade was on port property, it is considered vandalism and trespassing, according to Kitsap County Sheriff spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson. Law enforcement does not have any suspects at this time, Wilson said.
"The [barricade] is there for a purpose," Wilson said. "It's due diligence."
The Port of Indianola closed the dock to the public for one month in response to an engineer’s concerns about the ability of the dock to accommodate Independence Day crowds.
The closure comes a week before the Fourth of July holiday, when the beach and dock are crowded with people enjoying summer weather and watching Seattle’s fireworks display. In addition, a local fireworks display is planned for July 6, according to Dave Haley of the Indianola Beach Improvement Club.
As of 7 a.m., July 1, the barricade was still in place on the dock, Commissioner Jeff Henderson said.
According to Frank, the beach security guard — paid for by the port and Indianola Beach Improvement Club — found the barricade removed and set aside at about 8 p.m. June 28. The guard put the barricade back in place and left the area. Upon returning, the barricade was found on the beach. In the morning, Frank found the barricade in her front yard.
A recently created Facebook page, “Save the Indianola Dock,” had generated more than 800 "likes" by Monday morning.
"There are forces at work in our lovely town that are taking a non-proactive approach to the preservation of one of our key community assets," the page's statement reads. "Get involved, be heard, understand the facts and the history, and be willing to make a stand!"
Comments on the page vary from supporting the closure of the dock, to comparing the closure to "elitist behavior" found in other areas around Kitsap County.
Though port commissioners have tried to encourage more public involvement — including the creation of a website and posting meeting notices — Frank said there's been little interest in port business until now. The June regular port meeting, for example, drew 10 people — most of whom were from outside the Indianola community.
Frank said the three port commissioners were in agreement to close the dock, following legal advice and an engineering assessment that advised heavy foot traffic could jeopardize it.
Daily use of the dock is not the concern. After an engineering assessment by Coast & Harbor Engineering, however, it was advised the dock not be used by "large gatherings of people."
Coast & Harbor is currently in the beginning stages of assessing and developing short- and long-term repair recommendations for the dock.
About 80 of the historic dock’s pilings may need to be replaced. The dock was built in 1916 to accommodate boats and passenger ferries, according to the port district’s website. The port district was established in 1933 and the dock was widened and reinforced to accommodate vehicle access. Ferry service to Indianola ended in 1951 and, since then, the 900-foot dock has been used for recreational use.
"Based on our site visit observations, the Port-provided information, and the age of the structure, at this time we recommended that the Port prohibit use of the pier [dock] by large gatherings and numbers of people … until the assessment is completed," the engineering firm wrote.
Coast & Harbor is working on a detailed assessment, which is planned to be prepared for the July 23 meeting in the Indianola Community Center. A property tax levy increase will also be discussed. Port Commissioner Henderson hopes emotions have calmed.
"The dock is near and dear to the community's heart," he said. "Some people reacted emotionally … hopefully they got it out of their system."