With the Gig Harbor City Council’s decision to accept the Gig Harbor BoatShop’s proposal for the use of Eddon Boathouse over the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team’s, the club is still searching for a permanent home.
With city council action moving slowly, coach Alan Anderson is starting to explore other options for a permanent facility for the club, which could take the three-time national champion club out of Gig Harbor.
“What happened (June 22) with the council was disappointing,” Anderson said. “I’d like to say the boat house folks, the projects they’re working on, the history and past is very important. I recognize that; I have no animosity toward Eddon BoatHouse. I’m just jealous, I guess, that they’re far more politically adept than I am.”
According to Anderson, the club has been offered a permanent facility on American Lake in Lakewood. The club is also exploring other options around Pierce County, although Anderson declined to go into specific detail.
Never miss a local story.
“American Lake is a solid choice,” Anderson said. “American Lake is our strongest possibility.”
But the ideal preference would be to stay in Gig Harbor, where Anderson has built the club from the ground up, from a small club to a national power. In late July, the club will be looking to win its fourth straight national title.
“The ultimate preference would be to stay in Gig Harbor,” Anderson said. “I feel like we’ve built community support. I’m just not so sure about the city council yet.”
City council member Michael Perrow met with Anderson last week to discuss the club’s future in Gig Harbor. Once the state capital budget is passed, it should become more clear what the future has in store for the club, Perrow said. The city of Gig Harbor is likely to receive about $1.1 million for the Ancich park site, which the council has envisioned as a home for human-powered craft vessels and commercial fishermen.
“Once that funding comes through, the city engineer has a process laid out and is ready to pull the trigger,” Perrow said. “I’m optimistic with how the park will play out. Half the park is for non-motorized vessels, such as the kayak club, a place for them to operate. If they go somewhere else, then it’s hard to say. I’m sure they have a lot of options, being such a first-class organization. The city is excited to work with them.”
In an email to Michael Perrow, senior engineer Emily Appleton laid out a preliminary plan for Ancich Park. If everything goes as planned, construction could begin in July of 2016, and could be completed within four to six months.
“Everyone is all for the kayak club and the site that was worked out through the visioning process that they were involved in,” Perrow said. “That process was seen as a real win-win — everyone getting what they wanted. It’ll be a good opportunity for all parties to work together on the site and create something that will meet the community’s needs as well.”
While Perrow is confident the project will go through as planned, Anderson doesn’t share the same level of optimism.
“I’ve made other assumptions regarding properties in the past that I’ve worked on with the council that haven’t come to fruition,” Anderson said. “For me to believe that Ancich is actually doable is something that I have fears about.”
In last week’s city council meeting, the council floated around the idea of a parks bond, which would give the GHCKRT a home, as well as a home for human-powered vessels for community use. Anderson said his preference would be to fund the site privately through corporate sponsors.
“I’m not going to reject (the parks bond) idea,” Anderson said. “But my feeling is the people in the city are taxed enough. I can bring other investors to the table. We have some significant potential investors (for a Gig Harbor location). We could fund a facility privately. We have a corporate partner in mind. It’s not just for our team. This would be for the community. The reason I’ve worked so hard to build this into a successful team is so we could interest people in supporting us.”
Perrow said he believed private funding would be preferable to a parks bond.
“If there’s private money, that sounds fantastic,” Perrow said. “If we can save taxpayer money and still achieve the objectives of that group, that’s a win. I shared with (Anderson) the same sentiments. I was anxious to see what they had as to more specifics.”
Anderson is eager to work with the city, but in the meantime, is exploring other options to secure the club’s future. If the ball doesn’t start rolling soon in Gig Harbor, the club’s future in the maritime city looks murky.
“I think by the end of the summer, we’ll need to be aggressively looking elsewhere, or pursuing other options,” Anderson said.