Key Peninsula dock with ties to Mosquito Fleet gets a facelift

Staff writerFebruary 14, 2013 

Mark Scott’s memories of the Lakebay Marina on Lorenz Road date back to his days as a teenager growing up on the Key Peninsula.

He and his two brothers would take a small boat with an outboard motor from their home on Wollochet Bay in Gig Harbor and cruise down to the marina on the Key Peninsula to eat burgers and buy candy.

“When I was a teenager and couldn’t yet drive a car, my brothers and I would take the boat to Lakebay,” Scott said. “That was our only way of getting out.”

Today, he is trying to rebuild that childhood memory one plank and permit at a time. Acting on his dream will bring back to life a piece of Key Peninsula history while making the only public marina south of the Purdy sand spit more accessible. He is hoping to meet a self-imposed deadline of Memorial Day weekend for the grand opening — just in time for boating season.

Although the marina, which has 30 permanent slips and a handful of guest slips, remained open after the cafe closed several years ago, the facilities at the marina have gone mostly untended and are in poor condition. The store is still selling fuel but does not have regular hours. Scott and his wife, Cindy, decided last October to buy the three parcels the marina sits on along Lorenz Road as a business venture. But for him, it was a whole lot more personal. He was rebuilding a place he used to enjoy as a boy.

“This was a way for me to give the public something I used to enjoy doing,” he said. “I am an avid boater. I have been around boats all my life. I managed marinas around the Puget Sound for years. I love it.”

Scott, who graduated from Peninsula High School in 1979, did not waste any time getting to work. Tractors can be seen this week hauling rotted wood and garbage from half a dozen buildings on the property. Leonard Spadoni of Gig Harbor, a childhood friend and contractor, was busy laying planks on the main pier as tracks so he could drive his pickup truck to the marina store.

Rails along the main pier need to be built. The kitchen at the store needs to be refurbished and cleaned up to pass a health inspection. A boat launch needs repair and expansion. Parking spaces need to be created. A house on the property, built in the 1920s, is getting a major facelift. There is much more to be done, yet you can see Scott’s eyes light up with excitement as he talks about what he is doing.

He is not alone. Judy Mills, 69, president of the Key Peninsula Historical Society, is tickled the marina is making a comeback. She and her husband, Don, used to go there before and after they were married in 1962.

“We would go there for the burgers,” she said. “It was a really fun place to go. I’m glad someone is going to bring it back to life. It’s great. We’re very glad.”

Mills fondly remembers the trips to Penrose Point State Park on her father’s 30-foot wooden cruiser: “We would camp and play on the beach, and us kids would take the dinghy to the marina,” she said. “We would get candy and ice cream from the store and my dad would get gas.”

These are exactly the type of memories Scott hopes get repeated. To accomplish this he plans to keep the store’s hours more consistent and stock it with supplies for boaters and landlocked visitors alike. He also plans to sell fuel with Soltron, which is an additive that contains organic enzymes to improve fuel combustion. With improved combustion, toxic and harmful gases are reduced. This upgrade to the store’s fuel, he said, “will make us a little bit greener.”

But the draw, he said, is the location of the marina — a stone’s-throw from Penrose Point State Park. The 1.74-acre property sits across Mayo Cove from the state park and a 45-minute drive from Tacoma.

“That’s the beauty of it,” he said. “We’ll give people the experience of being in nature. Why would you want to tie up here? Well, you have thousands of feet of waterfront to play on.”

Beside the obvious natural beauty of its surroundings, the marina boasts a colorful past. It began as a farmers co-op and a way for farmers to get their crops to town, says Mills, long before it was ever a marina. In 1875, an entrepreneurial logger named Carl Lorenz built boats in Lakebay to carry his finished lumber to town. He later used these boats to ferry farmers and their goods to town. His boats were part of what became known as the Mosquito Fleet.

The marina’s dock master, Kerry Jamison, is enthusiastic about the prospect of improving a marina with roots firmly anchored in local lore. “This was one of the last marinas on the Key Peninsula to serve the Mosquito Fleet,” Jamison said.

The historical significance of the property was “right up my alley,” Scott said. “I really didn’t know about that until after I bought the marina — that it was one of the landings for the (Mosquito) fleet.”

News of the construction to improve the marina, especially the reopening of the cafe, has been met with enthusiastic anticipation.

“I have owned and moored a boat at the marina for the last 20 years,” Jamison said. “I am pretty excited about this.”

Mills says she is also excited about what Scott is doing at the marina. She points out that the Key Peninsula Historical Society has already scheduled a picnic on the grounds of the marina for next fall. “And we only do four of these things a year,” she adds.

David Montesino: 253-597-8265 david.montesino@ thenewstribune.com Blog: Longbranch Chronicles, dmontesino.wordpress.com

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