Guest Opinion: Concerns about the marina

  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

A bias against Port of Port Angeles funds being spent in eastern Clallam County is being perpetuated. We in Sequim have repeatedly been told that those in the western end of the county (per the 2010 census is only 18 percent of the county population) do not want to “subsidize” facilities in the east, regardless of the fact that those who use the marina facilities generate funds that benefit the entire county.

Those who dine in the John Wayne Marina restaurant, rent the marina meeting room, hire caterers for on-site events and use the marina’s transient docks all spend money in Clallam County.

In addition, of course, there is the revenue from those who rent slips or pay to launch boats and from the Dockside Restaurant’s and Sequim Bay Yacht Club’s rental of space.

Whether they live in Clallam and Jefferson counties or come here seasonally, these people all support local businesses and contribute to local sales tax revenue.

A perception that the marina only benefits those who rent the approximately 300 slips, and that these are wealthy people who don’t deserve any benefit of taxpayer-owned facilities, is inaccurate.

The marina functions as an admission-free, handicapped-accessible waterfront park, probably used by hundreds each day, and many more when events are scheduled. As early as dawn, there are people walking dogs and pausing on the point to watch boats come and go. There are people launching kayaks and in fair weather, children on the beach.

It is much more protected, with more amenities, than Marlyn Nelson County Park at Port Williams (and no day use fees, as at Sequim Bay State Park and the Dungeness Spit).

Those who rent slips at the marina are no more likely to be affluent than those who own recreational vehicles, jet skis, snowmobiles and trailered boats.

The importance of conforming to the state Shoreline Management Act, which is explicit about the preservation of natural shorelines and the importance of increasing public access. As noted on in the Department of Ecology’s description of the Shoreline Management Act (

“As much as possible, shorelines should be reserved for ‘water-oriented’ uses, including those that are ‘water-dependent,’ ‘water-related,’ and for ‘water-enjoyment.’

Preferred uses for shorelines of statewide significance are designed to:

• Recognize and protect statewide over local interests

• Preserve the natural character of the shoreline

• Result in long-term rather than short-term benefits

• Protect shoreline resources and environment

• Increase public access to publicly-owned shoreline areas

• Expand recreational shoreline opportunities for the public”

I find the proposal for tribal ownership/management of John Wayne Marina to directly contradict all of the above points of the Shoreline Management Act.

Finally, I am concerned that there is a lack of awareness of the importance of a publicly-owned marina to the Sequim Bay Yacht Club.

The club obviously benefits from a waterfront venue open to the public and uses the marina for its events. Like the majority of club members, I am not a boat owner, but because the only local rowing group is offered by the yacht club, I have joined. This organization is open to anyone, and its dues are kept reasonable to make membership affordable. I have worked on the club’s public Opening Day activities, its recent fundraising for a Port Angeles teenager’s rowing program and its annual fundraiser for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County (VHOCC).

Most Clallam County residents are likely unaware that the Sequim Bay Yacht Club is the single most important donor to the Port Angeles-based VHOCC, per patient care manager Bette Wood. It is the one donor that makes huge donations every single year; in the past quarter century, the club has contributed more than $360,000.

Without access to a publicly-owned and managed marina for its fundraiser, it is questionable how the yacht club could make contributions such as that in 2018, which exceeded $31,000. These funds are used for the hundreds of families the VHOCC serves each year — as far west as Joyce.

Linda Carlson is a Sequim Bay Yacht Club member.

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