The Port of Olympia commission threw the cash-strapped Olympia Harbor Patrol a lifeline on Monday, agreeing to take ownership of the boat and fund annual costs as part of an interlocal agreement with the city of Olympia.
And that decision to approve the agreement led to something rarely seen at a port meeting: a standing ovation.
Those standing and applauding were about 12 Harbor Patrol volunteers, all of whom were dressed in matching Harbor Patrol shirts. The group currently has 23 volunteers — it has had as many as 32 — and has been in existence since 1982, according to information provided at the meeting.
“Our organization vision matches with yours,” Harbor Patrol volunteer Jim Broman told the commission during the meeting. “We want the harbor and port area to be safe, to be attractive, to be enjoyable and to be a place where people can recreate.”
Broman is an administrative commander and has been with the patrol for six years, he said.
Some finer points of Monday’s agreement: annual costs to run the 28-foot Harbor Patrol boat are estimated at $18,000, which includes fuel, repairs and maintenance. The city will contribute a lump sum of $24,000, or $8,000 annually for the next three years, according to the agreement.
Port Commissioner George Barner praised Commissioner Bill McGregor’s work on the Harbor Patrol issue, while McGregor said the Harbor Patrol is important to boating safety.
Some of the Harbor Patrol’s duties include search-and-rescue operations, boat safety inspections, supervising water-based events and enforcing speed limits.
Broman said the Harbor Patrol is on the water year-round on Saturdays and Sundays, and then expands service to Fridays during the boating season between May and September. The Harbor Patrol also is on the water for about 20 special events throughout the year, he said.
But all of this was in jeopardy earlier this year.
In February, The Olympian reported that the Harbor Patrol program would cease at the end of March. The lack of a stable funding source was the biggest obstacle for the Harbor Patrol, which had relied on a state parks grant to keep afloat, Olympia Police Lt. Paul Lower said at the time. The city must reapply for that money year after year, he said.
Also, to qualify for the grant, the patrol must staff the boat with a fully commissioned officer. However, the police department was unable to meet that condition, Lower said.