Port favoring pleasure boats for Fishermen's Terminal; foes plan initiative to block change
Seattle Times business reporter
The commission approved a first reading of the resolution for pleasure boats. The second reading and final passage of the measure could come in January, but fisherman Pete Knutson is targeting his initiative for fall.
Knutson, who has been leading opposition to the Port plan, said he believes the people of Seattle will oppose allowing pleasure boats at Fishermen's Terminal, the 88-year-old home to much of the North Pacific fishing fleet. He likened the initiative effort to the 1971 campaign to save Pike Place Market.
"We're going to go forward and let the public have their say," Knutson said.
Port officials proposed allowing pleasure boats at Fishermen's Terminal because vacancies have been increasing and the Port needs money to repair the facility.
As recommended by the Fishermen's Terminal Advisory Committee and a Port-commissioned harbor-development study, yachts would moor on a dock separate from work boats and fishing boats. They also would pay more for moorage.
The proposal would make recreational moorage temporary.
Fees from pleasure boats are expected to raise about $200,000 a year — enough to service $1 million in bonds for capital projects at the Terminal.
Port officials say fishing boats will continue to have priority: If the fishing fleet needs more space, pleasure boats would have to leave.
But the proposal rankled some fishermen, who blamed a lack of Port support for the local fishing industry for the fleet's woes. Most docks are in disrepair and do not have vehicle access. Fishermen have complained they have not had a working crane to unload their boats.
Knutson claims Port officials are interested in the real-estate value of Fishermen's Terminal and have discussed development prospects. He cited sections of a draft business analysis of the Port's harbor-development study, which recommends the Port consider selling some of the land.
Commissioner Pat Davis said the draft comments came out of committee discussions that were not seen by the commission and were not included in the study's final draft.
While Port officials did not address the prospect of an initiative, Fishermen's Terminal manager Jim Serrill has said the Port would not support a historic designation because it is inconsistent with the working nature of the facility.
Frank Vinluan can be reached at 206-464-2291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.