Olympia got a little more boater friendly this week with the reopening of two floating docks at Percival Landing.
Crews have wrapped up construction on the two docks, known as the E-Float and F-Float, in time for this weekend’s Wooden Boat Fair. Structural repairs were made to the E-Float to include electricity and water connections for boats. The fully replaced F-Float will serve as a water and sewage pump-out station.
The floats had been without power since 2006, and the F-Float had been closed since January 2013. Usage of the floats had plummeted nearly 80 percent after the power was shut down, according to city parks staff.
Longtime resident and boater Earl Hughes, who cruises up and down Puget Sound all summer long, said the new floats are a game-changer for Percival Landing. The top complaint from fellow boaters, he said, was the lack of water and power services at the docks. The electrical hookups are ideal because many boaters are reluctant to use their noisy power generators while docked, he said.
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“It’s going to make this more of a destination,” said Hughes, who expects to see more boaters coming to Percival Landing. “It’s going to be a real asset for the community.”
A short ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon outside the Harbor House. Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, a former boater himself, said Percival Landing has been transformational for Olympia since construction began in 1978 on the east side of Budd Inlet.
Buxbaum stressed the waterfront’s importance in linking Olympia with the rest of the Puget Sound region. The newly reopened floats will provide accessibility as well as incentive for boaters to visit downtown.
“Without these floats out here, we’re really missing a vital connection,” Buxbaum said. “It gets us back in the business of recreational boating.”
Shelly Lively of the Olympia Kiwanis Club said the new floats will be a welcome addition to the annual Harbor Days festival that takes place Labor Day weekend.
“Our tugboaters are already excited about these new floats down here. They’re already excited about the pump-out and power,” she said Wednesday, praising the community partnerships involved in the Percival Landing repairs. “We are truly proud of our city.”
Cost for the E-Float work was $250,022 while the cost for the F-Float replacement was $494,604, according to the city. The long-delayed F-Float construction was partially funded by a grant worth $309,000 from the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program.
The aging Percival Landing has a long list of necessary repairs, and the city is trying to fund those repairs. The next round of repairs would target the bulkheads (protective waterfront barriers) along the section near Water Street. The estimated cost would be about $2.5 million, according to the city.