November 5, 2008
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If you're Mike Bookey, it's not a passenger-only ferry, it's "water transit."
That statement was part of a big-picture update the Port of Kingston executive director gave the Kingston Citizen Advisory Council on Wednesday night on the status of getting foot ferries, or water transit service if you're so inclined, between Kingston and Seattle.
"We've got the hard part done in the terminals," he said, adding that with a dose of help from the Legislature, it's theoretically possible to have service running by late summer.
The Port purchased the former Aqua Express barge next to the state ferry terminal in Kingston, and has an agreement to dock in Seattle.
The Port last year secured a $3.5 million federal grant, which would buy a vessel, but it estimates it needs $900,000 from the state over four years to allow the route to get on its feet and break even.
"Right now, that's still sitting on the governor's desk unapproved," he said.
His opening remarks best summarized his expectation of the plan becoming reality.
"I don't want to be optimistic or pessimistic," he said. "This is very complex."
Ferries weren't the only topic before the KCAC Wednesday.
A county planner told the group about an upcoming update to the county's comprehensive plan and Kingston subarea plan, which includes directions for how the community wants the town to change.
Planner Pete Sullivan said a public hearing on the changes will be before the county commissioners Nov. 24.
The update includes a prioritized list of objectives for the community that was the result of a months-long effort by residents to plan for Kingston's future.
The plan doesn't allocate money or set timetables for the suggestions, but provides the county with a reference to help prioritize projects.
"This is basically a well-vetted wish list of the community," Sullivan said.
High-priority items include the Village Green project, redirecting Highway 104 to relieve traffic congestion downtown, encouraging low-impact development, revising parking standards and synchronizing bus and ferry schedules.
More detailed planning efforts for Kingston's downtown core are under way, with working groups scheduled to start meeting soon.