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Port, business dispute marina float
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
KINGSTON — Residents eagerly await a statement from the Port of Kingston after a crowd swarmed its April 23 meeting in defense of a local business.
“A few years ago, the cove was not used by kids or people or anybody, and now during the summer you can come here any day, and see people paddleboarding, kayaking,” said Kingston resident Amy Anderson. “They’ll go late into the night and do a phosphorescent paddleboard. People come from Seattle — families — all because of Kingston Adventures.”
Kingston Adventures rents kayaks, paddleboards and more, and holds functions related to outdoors activities.
At the core of the issue that Anderson, and other supporters of Kingston Adventures, are concerned about is a single float located at the Port of Kingston’s marina. The float was tied to another that is leased by Kingston Adventures for paddleboards and kayaks, and was used to launch vessels and accommodate larger groups, until recently.
The float was moved to another portion of the marina for the City of Poulsbo’s Parks and Recreation Department to use for its sailing program.
The move has prompted a local pushback, pressing the Port of Kingston to return the float for Kingston Adventures to use. The pressure places the port in an awkward position; between a local business and the City of Poulsbo.
The City of Poulsbo actually owns the float in question. The city has operated a sailing program out of Kingston for 19 years, according to Mary McCluskey, Director of Poulsbo Parks and Recreation.
“We own the larger of the floats down there,” McCluskey said.
The float was built by volunteers for the city to use for its Kingston sailing program. The city “took a break” from its program, McCluskey said, in 2011 to restructure it. This was right around the time that Kingston Adventures began using the float.
Beth Brewster, owner of Kingston Adventures, noticed the float was gone about two weeks ago when she brought a group of kayakers down to the shore.
“Two weeks ago, while walking a few customers (kayakers) down to the water, I noticed the float was gone,” Brewster said in a statement that was handed out to her supporters. “I ask the Port of Kingston if it would be moved back and I was told that it was part of an interagency agreement with the City of Poulsbo and was moved to provide more space for their sailing program here in Kingston. We were given no notice, no time to prepare and no chance to provide input.”
The statement was handed out to people that met at Kingston Adventures, shortly before the Port of Kingston’s April 23 meeting. The group planned to bring their concerns to the port that evening.
“Two years ago the Port of Kingston attached a float to the kayak float and told us that is was ours to use and even asked if there was anything additional they could do to it to make it even more useful,” Brewster said in the statement. “This new float offered us quite a bit of room, allowing us to work with larger groups.”
The statement goes on to say that the float proved beneficial to the business which serves adults, children and corporate events. With the additional float, Kingston Adventures doubled its overhead, according to the statement. It also said that Kingston Adventures “absolutely needs the float back.”
After the crowd of residents and business owners left Kingston Adventures, it went to the port’s meeting and filled the room. The crowd flowed out the door and onto the deck outside. One by one, 11 people rose to speak, asking the port to return the float, or find a remedy to the situation. The meeting was polite and to the point. Attendees requested the the port find a remedy that benefits all parties, and overall, expressed a local admiration for Kingston Adventures.
“Being involved in business all my life, I understand that business decisions need to be based on facts, not emotion. Tonight I implore you to set aside the facts and feel the emotion in this room of people who support Beth and Kingston Adventures,” said Siri Reinbold at the meeting, further noting that Kingston Adventures has become an essential contributor to the local economy and culture.
“We have a family in this community who is busting their ass to help us, to have something for our children,” Reinbold said. “They have given the economy in this area the biggest shot in the arm over the past three years, more than anyone else has. They have done a great job bringing this community together. I ask the port to really think about that.”
Port Commissioner Pete DeBoer said that the commissioners heard the people, but that the commission could not speak on the matter just yet. An attorney for Brewster had contacted the port about the issue. The action set a process in motion that requires commissioners to go into executive session to review and discuss the matter, before speaking on it.
Port Commissioner Walt Elliott said that the port may issue a statement after it met in executive session later that night.
In the mean time, McCluskey said that she is willing to work something out with the Kingston business.
“We are willing to share, but we can’t be on there at the same time,” McCluskey said.