City council considers 'weaning' Gig Harbor Waterfront Alliance off city funds

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance’s Winter Sip & Stroll event takes patrons on a tour along Gig Harbor’s waterfront sampling Northwest wines, brews, spirits and tasty small bites at businesses serving as “Stroll Stops.”
The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance’s Winter Sip & Stroll event takes patrons on a tour along Gig Harbor’s waterfront sampling Northwest wines, brews, spirits and tasty small bites at businesses serving as “Stroll Stops.” Courtesy

The city council and the Gig Harbor Waterfront Alliance may see changes in the future of the two’s’ relationship after an idea about lowering the yearly contribution the city makes to the alliance was discussed.

During the Monday night city council meeting, the council voted to approve $35,000 to be used by the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance as a part of the continued partnership between the city and the organization. According to the agreement between the two, the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance works in partnership with the city to stimulate the development and retention of a “vibrant downtown waterfront.”

Mike Henry, president of the association's board and owner of downtown's Tickled Pink shop, gave a quick presentation at the meeting. “We have had fantastic partnerships with the city for the 10 years we have been bringing people downtown,” Henry said.

Henry highlighted the events in the city, including the farmers market, and discussed how the events brought people downtown.

“Our biggest award is maintaining this awesome city we live in,” Henry said. “There is a lot we do and I look forward to your continued support.”

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During discussion, councilman Jim Franich said he was concerned about the practice of giving the alliance over $30,000 each year. He said when he first served on the council he remembered approving the first $35,000 payment to the alliance from the city with the idea that it would be a way to help the alliance “up on their feet” when they became a Main Street organization.

“It was only supposed to be a two-year payment,” Franich said. “Why are we funding $35,000 a year? We don’t have a lot of funding laying around. In my opinion, this will be the last year the city should fund this. I would support a drop to $20,000 next year and then zero dollars the next year.”

Councilmember Michael Perrow said he would support continuing the contributions if the alliance agreed to do more for the city.

Councilmember Jeni Woock agreed it was time to “wean” the alliance off of city money.

“It’s not easy to get weaned,” Woock said.

Gig Harbor resident Melissa Moller, owner of the Sea Hags shop near the waterfront, said she supports the alliance and hopes the city will consider to continue to support them.

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“Without them I’m not sure my shop would have survived in Gig Harbor,” Moller said. “For all they do for the shops, what I bring into the store doubled. And when we are doing well (the city) is doing well. They also provided education seminars to redesign my store that reflects Gig Harbor. People love that stuff, they love downtown Gig Harbor because the alliance helps us make it vibrant.”

The council approved the expenditure with a 5-2 vote. Woock and Franich voted against the expenditure.


The city council also voted to approve a professional services contract worth $2,160 with nonprofit Gig Harbor BoatShop to help construct boat railways at the historic location.

The Gig Harbor City Council selected a proposal from the Gig Harbor BoatShop for use of the house at Eddon Boat Park. The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Team also submitted a proposal for the house. Staff photographer

The money was not part of the original budget but will be used to help restore the boat shop so it can bring in additional repair projects. As a part of the agreement the council also authorized the mayor to execute a Memorandum of Understanding between the nonprofit and the city in regards to the financial assistance on the railways project.

The city’s responsibilities include managing public bidding for the steel order per project plans; pay up to $35,000 for Phase 1 of the project’s steel purchase; and contract and deliver the lowest bidder's fabricated steel.

The Gig Harbor Boatshop’s responsibilities include paying any difference in bid price of the Phase 1 project; finish the project with no help from the city after the steel is delivered; refund the city the full amount for the steel if the project is not complete by the end of 2021.

During the meeting, the city council also performed a second reading of Ordinance No. 1387, which will require base plans for residential structures to be submitted to the city digitally. The council voted to authorize an application for the Heritage Barn Grant from the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. If the city is awarded the grant, it will be used to restore Wilkinson Barn in Wilkinson Farm Park, which is a registered on the National Register of Historical Places.

Danielle Chastaine: 253-358-4155, @gateway_danie