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City Council approves lease with Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Team for home within Ancich Park

Ancich Park has been the official home of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team since 2017, but the club has been practicing at Skansie Park while waiting for a floating dock.
Ancich Park has been the official home of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team since 2017, but the club has been practicing at Skansie Park while waiting for a floating dock. Courtesy

Ancich Park is the official new home of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team, this after the Gig Harbor City Council approved the lease between the city and the club at a special meeting Monday night at the Civic Center.

The city has all the local, state and federal permits in place for the new park, which has been in the works for more than a year. Construction on the park began Dec. 1, with no official ribbon-cutting ceremony or announcement.

“This generational opportunity is available to your children, grandchildren and all other children in Gig Harbor community,” Terez Grady, the team’s board president, said during the public comment portion of the discussion. “Alan Anderson created something amazing here in Gig Harbor 15 years ago. We have been blessed with support from community and we are proud to be the Gig Harbor team. We are looking forward to serving the community’s youth. We want a permanent and stable base of operations to stay viable and give back. We are eager to expand our partnership with the city, representing Gig Harbor around the world, and we are particularly eager to help the development for Ancich Park.”

The city will rehabilitate the existing netshed and pier. The park will also include space for commercial fishing, mainly loading and unloading areas for nets and net mending.

“It will be the only publicly owned netshed utilized for its intended purpose,” Gig Harbor Parks Project administrator Katrina Knutson told the Gateway earlier this year. “We have netsheds as museums, restaurants, etc. This one will be a living, breathing place for people to see history in action.”

The Ancich Park project has stirred some controversy in the community, with some residents claiming views will be blocked with the construction of the storage facility on the upland area for human-powered watercraft, some of the same issues brought up before the new lift station in Skansie Park was constructed. The GHCKRT has been working with the city to create a lease for the park’s use for months.

The council’s decision was very emotional for Anderson.

“When I started this program 15 years ago, my original mission was to support the kids of this community all the way to the Olympic level and to establish a home for future generations of Gig Harbor paddlers,” he said. “This is how I serve the community, and I’ve been fortunate to share this mission with many wonderful kids and families over the years. I have great respect for the fishing and boat building history of this harbor, and I am glad the community saw fit to give Gig Harbor’s next generation the chance to make their own history.”

The new lease was drafted three times before being approved by the Council on Monday. Changes to the lease were made based on public comments and council members’ concerns. The main changes included:

▪ In regard to parking, a Public Works committee will review all complaints received and recommend any actions necessary if the complaint breaches the lease.

▪ There was public testimony about event hours and hours of operation, so the city has decided the hours of operation will remain 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. but events cannot start until 10 a.m. and must end at 7 p.m.

▪ The race team does not have use of Ancich Netshed or pier, that is primary for fishing fleets.

▪ The GHCKRT must provide a list of of the year’s upcoming events and races by Jan. 30 so the city can give a notice and calendar to the park’s neighbors.

▪ If any event is going to include more than 50 members of the public, the GHCKRT must apply for a public use permit from the city.

▪ Ancich is slated to open between May and June of 2018. The site will have a boat storage building, which the team will be able to use to store its boats and a space to launch out of for practices. The team’s coach, Alan Anderson, has worked closely with the city to create the terms of the lease.

Monday’s motion was the final motion the current City Council will make on the Ancich Park project before newly elected Council members take their seats. A couple of the new Council members were not in favor of the project and may use their positions to “reassess” the development.

Jim Franich, who defeated Peter Norman for City Council Position 3 in November’s primary election, said in a previous interview with the Gateway he wants to make large changes to the current city codes regarding development agreements.

One of his first steps as a Councilman will be to reassess the Ancich Waterfront Park proposal, he said.

“It’s a large structure in the middle of a residential area,” Franich said. “It’s $3 million over budget. The project needs to be scaled back, and I want to see where we can find cost savings.”

During the meeting Monday, Council member Paul Kadzik told the Council and public he wanted to clear up some “misinformation” regarding the cost of the park.

“There has been a lot of misinformation about cost of this project,” Kadzik said. “This is just for my benefit so people can understand what monies are going and where.”

The total project cost without floats or the purchase of the property is $6.7 million, Kadzik said, and the new building is 31 percent of total project cost.

The building the GHCKT will take just over 50 percent of the space, or 1,500 of the total 2,700 square feet, he said.

“A higher percent is going into commercial fisherman netshed and pier,” Kadzik said. “We have money going — $600,000 — for the benefit of the existing private dock.”

After a few more minutes of discussion, the Council moved to vote to approve the lease between the city and GHCKRT. The lease was approved with a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Ken Malich voting against the lease.

“I want to thank the mayor, City Council, and city staff for their service to our community, for working so hard to see this project through, and for putting up with me in the early years,” Anderson said. “Ancich Park will be a big part of their legacy and a tremendous gift to the community.”

KUHN TAKES OATH OF OFFICE

Before the special meeting began on Monday, City Council members and Kadzik, serving as mayor pro-tem, swore in Mayor-elect Kit Kuhn.

Kuhn defeated mayoral incumbent Jill Guernsey in the November election. He will take his seat in January.

“I just want to tell you one thing I thought of preparing for this,” Kadzik said to Kuhn before the ceremony. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown. So this head will be heavy.”

Kadzik performed the ceremony as acting mayor; Guernsey was not present at the meeting.

“I want to thank everyone. I am honored to be a part of this community and serve you,” Kuhn said. “I am looking forward to working with the current Council people and the new Council. I will make it fun, and I want to thank all the citizens that made this possible.”

Danielle Chastaine: 253-358-4155, @gateway_danie

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