City exploring lease of Ancich Park net shed to fishermen’s club

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The Commercial Fisherman’s Club and city of Gig Harbor are in the early stages of negotiating a lease of the historic net shed on the pier at Ancich Park.

The lease would allow commercial fishermen to use the shed to dry, repair and maintain their nets.

“It was great the city purchased it to help the commercial fishing fleets,” said Gregg Lovrovich, president of the fisherman’s club. “We would like to see it used.”

There are 17 net sheds remaining in Gig Harbor, but most are in private hands.

Under the proposed lease, the fishermen’s club would form a separate nonprofit, which would lease the pier for a dollar a year. It would be open to commercial fishermen from the zip codes surrounding the Peninsula. The club would also have non-exclusive use of a portion of the pier in order to stretch nets.

The city’s park manager, Nicole Jones-Vogel, said a non-profit would be the best way to handle the deal.

“There is a lot more transparency, more emphasis on general community need and input from a community perspective, and also enables the club to partner with the city on potential brand opportunities,” Jones-Vogel said.

Although Gig Harbor is still a working waterfront, the Ancich net shed is currently empty.

Lovrovich said Ancich would be the first net shed the city of Gig Harbor has owned that would provide access to the public, if leased to the club.

This lease would give the club exclusive use of the Ancich net shed and priority non-exclusive use of a certain extent of the pier.

Priority non-exclusive means other boats would get to use the pier, but if a commercial fishing boat needed access, the recreational boater would be asked to leave.

Lovrovich, a member of the fisherman’s club since his high-school days in the 1970s, said the Ancich net shed would be used for building and rebuilding nets. He said if one joins the non-profit being created, it would give them use of the net shed for commercial fisherman purposes only.

“You can’t join the organization and expect you will have a wedding there,” he said.

The building of seine nets take around three weeks. Lovrovich, as well as other fisherman, have built their own net sheds to use.

Purse seiners use a large net, towed by a skiff, which is closed like a purse to capture fish. After each season, the nets need to be dried — usually stretched out along a dock — to prevent rotting in storage. Until the 1950s, Gig Harbor fishermen used cotton nets, which had to be tarred before use. Nylon replaced cotton after World War II, but the nets still need to be stretched and dried.

Fisherman Peter Ancich built the net shed in the 1920s. The roof was replaced in the 1950s, but the frame and siding materials are largely in original condition, according to the parks department.

Lovrovich said the Ancich net shed, if leased, would ensure it would be used for commercial fisherman forever, which is the purpose of the shed.

The club used an attorney to draw up an initial lease which was presented to city council on June 24.

The Commercial Fisherman’s Club suggested a lease at one dollar a year. Jones-Vogel said at this point the city is making edits to the lease which will then be returned to the club for consideration.

Whether the city or club would manage the pier still needs to be worked out, she said.