Boaters may soon have access to a fuel dock in downtown Olympia for the first time in almost 15 years, under a proposal being presented at a public meeting on Monday.
The Port of Olympia is considering installing a fuel dock at Swantown Marina and will host a public meeting about the project at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.
The meeting will be held downtown at the Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW., and will provide information about design, alternate locations considered and next steps in the process. A public comment period will be part of the meeting.
The proposal for the fuel dock dates back to 2008, when around 800 local boaters signed a petition in support of it. The Port did a study the following year, then hired an outside consultant to look at possible locations and come up with a preliminary design.
The last fuel dock in downtown Olympia was located at West Bay Marina and closed around 1998, said Bruce Marshall, the Port’s harbor director. The closest fuel dock to is now at Boston Harbor, about six miles north, and the next closest one is at Zittel’s Marina, about 12 miles away from downtown Olympia on Johnson Point.
Swantown Marina is the seventh largest in the state, Marshall said, and there are several other marinas around town, as well as the Olympia Yacht Club, that don’t have easy access to a fuel dock.
“There’s a huge demand for it,” he said. “From what our research shows, we are probably the biggest underserved boating market in the state without fuel.”
Joe Downing, an Olympia Yacht Club member who headed a citizens advisory committee that worked with the Port on the proposal, said a fuel dock at Swantown makes sense for both local boaters and those visiting the state capital from points north.
“They need X amount of fuel to get down here and X amount to get back,” he said. “It’s very nice to have a fuel dock at the furthermost point of the trip.”
Information from the consultant’s work and the public meeting will be presented to the Port’s three-member commission in the next few months. If the commission approves the fuel dock, construction is expected to start next year and the dock would likely be open for the 2015 boating season, Marshall said. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 to $1.5 million.
Public feedback about the proposal has so far been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
“We’re getting a lot of email comments, and well over 90 percent are in support of the fuel dock. We expect that trend to continue as we go into our public meeting.”
Downing encouraged boaters to come out to the meeting and provide feedback.
“We’re trying to drum up turnout for Monday’s meeting,” he said. “There definitely is a lot of demand.”