A Gift in Kind

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The purchase ensures that Lakebay Marina will remain open to the public.

The purchase ensures that Lakebay Marina will remain open to the public.

The Recreational Boating Association of Washington purchased Lakebay Marina in Lakebay, Wash., with the intent of rebuilding the facility and donating it to the state as a marine park.

Along with its nonprofit RBAW Marine Parks Conservancy, the RBAW announced the purchase Dec. 12. Key Peninsula News reported that the purchase price was $1.25 million, with $250,000 of that coming from the Pierce County 2020-2021 biennial budget. Council member Derek Young played a key role in securing the funding.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to extend our legacy of building marine parks for boaters because that’s what our organization was originally founded on,” RBAW president Bob Wise told Trade Only Today. “We’re very concerned about the opportunities for recreational boating decreasing.”

Wise owns four marinas in Washington, including Port Marina in Brinnon, Port Hadlock Marina and Eagle Harbor Marina on Bainbridge Island.

The agreement for Lakebay Marina is set up similar to a land trust to keep the area open for boaters. RBAW will renovate the marina and donate it to the state, which will operate the facility independently. Lakebay Marina has about 30 slips in an area that’s a popular rendezvous location. It’s on the southern edge of Puget Sound and is easy to reach from Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, three of Washington’s largest cities.

“We were worried that this one was going to close,” Wise said. “It was pretty dilapidated, so we wanted to make sure we could preserve it for future generations.”

Wise told Key Peninsula News that he knows “how to rebuild marinas — I’m not a novice at this. Our goal is actually to fix the property up and provide the funding to do that so were’ not handing the parks department a mess, and so that they can use the revenue from the marina to maintain it going forward for multiple generations.”

Lakebay Marina dates to the 1800s, when the Mosquito fleet ferry boats that operated across Puget Sound docked there. It’s contiguous to Penrose Point State Park in Mayo Cove and was added to the Washington Heritage Registers last June and to the Pierce County Register of Historic Places last February.

Wise said he needs to raise another $1 million to finish acquiring the properties, and that any comments or requests for information be sent to lakebay@rbaw.org.

This isn’t RBAW’s first preservation-oriented purchase. The association’s parent organization, the Puget Sound Interclub Association, raised money to buy part of Sucia Island north of Orcas Island, then donated it to Washington so it would be protected as a state marine park.

“We all realize that some parts of recreational boating are under pressure,” Wise said. “Marinas are having a hard time maintaining their facilities.” 

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