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City addresses concerns about Ancich Park development

Proposed plans for development of Ancich Waterfront Park includes a building with a street-level public viewing platform, storage underneath for non-motorized water vessels and public restrooms.
Proposed plans for development of Ancich Waterfront Park includes a building with a street-level public viewing platform, storage underneath for non-motorized water vessels and public restrooms. jbessex@gateline.com

For many Gig Harbor residents who worry about the loss of open space and a fading of the historic fishing village character that is the town’s past, overdevelopment is a major concern.

It is these concerns and more that swirl around the plans for development of the Ancich Waterfront Park space along Harborview Drive in downtown Gig Harbor.

City staff has worked to address these concerns and hear public input through a public information session held May 14 and during public comment sessions at City Council meetings on May 9 and Monday night.

Katrina Knutson, the AICP Parks project administrator, presented the two proposed plans to the City Council and addressed citizen concerns, ranging from loss of view to concerns about parking.

“We heard significant concerns from the public to the designs we put forth at the ad hoc meetings,” Knutson said at the May 9 City Council meeting. “We’ve been really busy working with staff and consultants to meet the concerns of the citizens.”

Scheduling a public meeting on May 14, a Saturday, was a way for city staff to engage with residents who could not attend regular weeknight or midday meetings because of work schedules.

We heard significant concerns from the public to the designs we put forth at the ad hoc meetings. We’ve been really busy working with staff and consultants to meet the concerns of the citizens.

Katrina Knutson, AICP Parks project administrator

With more than 200 Gig Harbor residents in attendance, Knutson reported at Monday night’s meeting that, of the 157 attendees who gave preference on a design, 81 percent (127 people) expressed a preference for concept R1. Concept R1 proposes a 3,000-square-foot building with a viewing platform on top and storage underneath for non-motorized watercraft. This design also includes an Americans with Disabilities Act lift, a bulkhead and vegetative buffer, stairs leading down to the water and public bathrooms.

A second design, concept R2, shows an 800-square-foot building, also with a viewing platform on top and storage underneath, with a sloping grass park space leading down to the water.

Both designs show the building top to be level with the sidewalk, to negate view impacts from nearby residents.

Kirsten Gregory, a representative for the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, supports the Ancich Park plans and concept R1, which she said is consistent with the original application used by the city to apply for state grants.

I think our team has always felt somewhat transient and homeless … having a permanent base would provide a lot of stability to the team. There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions out there. We’re trying to clear that up so people can understand who we are.

Kirsten Gregory, representative for the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team

The team is seeking a permanent storage facility for its equipment.

“Clearly, the visioning for Ancich Park and the intent of the visioning of the city was to provide storage for recreational boaters and also storage for the teams’ boats,” Gregory said, referring to the 2013 grant application which features several photos of the team and its boats.

Currently the team’s boats are stored in Skansie Park, without protection from the elements or anyone passing by.

“I think our team has always felt somewhat transient and homeless … having a permanent base would provide a lot of stability to the team,” Gregory said. “There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions out there. We’re trying to clear that up so people can understand who we are.”

Some of the common misconceptions about the team include the size of the program, its impact on parking and park use, the presence of trailers for moving equipment and traffic increases, she said.

The size of the team has fluctuated between 40 and 47 members since 2012, when the Ancich property was first purchased and the use for the park first declared, Gregory said.

This has been a long, long process with a lot of public outreach and public opinion. This is not something that has been sprung on anybody.

Gregory

She added that the team’s impact on the park’s land use would be minimal, as the team members are eager to get to rowing and head straight for the water after gathering their equipment. As for parking and traffic, the team has staggered meeting times and would not all be in the park at one time.

“Not only are most of our kids not driving, but I think most people are under the misconception that our whole team comes at one time to practice,” she said. “We want to mitigate our impact on parking.”

Trailers to unload equipment are only used when the team is leaving to compete somewhere, and then the loading and unloading is scheduled with the city during non-peak traffic times.

“This has been a long, long process with a lot of public outreach and public opinion,” Gregory said of the design and outreach, in process since 2012. “This is not something that has been sprung on anybody.”

For more information on the project and proposed designs, visit cityofgigharbor.net.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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