It wasn’t an average ribbon-cutting Saturday as politicians and others strapped on life jackets and grabbed oars. The group traveled to the sandspit that is home to Gig Harbor’s lighthouse.
The land changed hands from the U.S. Coast Guard to the City of Gig Harbor. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, worked to get the land transfer into a bill as a provision. On Maritime Gig morning, the city formally celebrated the acquisition.
“I don’t know where in the United States of America that you can have more of an idyllic entryway to a community,” Cantwell said.
The slice of sand doesn’t currently have public land access, so the politicians had to access the land by water, rowing the Porpoise across the harbor. Several council members followed in the city’s Public Works boat.
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“I thought we were in a boat race,” Cantwell said. “I sized up the council and thought ‘Boy, we better row, Derek (Kilmer).’”
City Council member Ken Malich has waited a long time to see the lighthouse property become city land. In the past, Malich traveled to the nation’s capitol on his own dime to lobby on the issue.
“This is like the prime property of Gig Harbor to me,” he said. “I only wish we had land access.”
The plan is to someday make the land a marine-access city park.
The land was given over to the city as part of the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2014, which passed in Congress on Dec. 11.
Cantwell said it was serendipitous that the bill was moving in Congress.
Kilmer had to go way back to the orders of President William McKinley while working on the land transition. At one point, a survey had to be done tracking the ownership of the property.
City council members as well as state Representatives Michelle Caldier and Jesse Young helped cut the ribbon on the property.