Finishing on schedule and under budget, the Skansie Park Welcome Plaza/Lift Station 4 is now open to the public.
Construction began in September, closing off the park and sidewalk in downtown Gig Harbor to the public. The Welcome Plaza opened Friday (May 26) ahead of the official ribbon-cutting event, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday (June 1), during the first Waterfront Farmer’s Market of the year, from 3 to 7 p.m.
“Overall, the project has gone well. It has taken significant effort on the part of staff and the contractors to stay on budget and on schedule,” said Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm. “It was not an easy project.”
Along with the new plaza was the replacement of the Fishermen’s Memorial in a new setting and to include a water feature. There was some talk about changing the direction the statue is facing, but Langhelm said the new placement allows those reading the memorial plaque to view the water, Skansie House and Skansie Netshed along with the statue.
Input from community members and the Commercial Fishermen’s Club was considered in the placement of the statue.
Along with newer, bigger restroom facilities, the Welcome Plaza also features showers available to visiting boaters and will include future laundry facilities. No parking was lost along Harborview Drive, and a Pierce Transit stop has been added right in front of the plaza.
An electronic kiosk area removes the hassle and mess of paper fliers and allows the city more control in marketing, said Karen Scott, tourism and communications director for the city of Gig Harbor.
“Instead of having a paper kiosk here, it will be a green, paperless computer,” she said.
The top level of the Welcome Plaza provides a few tables and views of the park, downtown and harbor. Stairs and an Americans with Disabilities Act lift provide access to pedestrians looking to enjoy the view.
The lift station is operational, handling one-third of the city’s sewer.
Added machinery removes the sewer odor before venting above the building, Langhelm said.