By Pat Grubb
The arrival of a barge bearing heavy equipment on Monday, October 2 marked the beginning of a long-awaited dredging of the entrance channel to the Point Roberts marina. According to Wayne Knowles, vice president of development for the marina, it has taken two years to receive permission from six different agencies: Washington state departments of ecology, natural resources, fish and wildlife, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Whatcom County.
The entrance should be dredged every five years, Knowles said, but the last time was back in 2009 when only 1,500
cubic yards was removed. In 2002, approximately 9,000 cubic yards were removed. As the result of the delay, Knowles said the dredging permits expired and the marina had to apply for new permits from the various agencies.
The new permits allow a total of 47,000 cubic yards to be removed over the next 10 years. The next dredges will be five and 10 years from now.
“We are extracting 25,000 cubic yards during this current dredge,” he said, adding, “We remove 1,000 cubic yards per day, so the entire process will take five weeks to complete at a cost of $850,000.” On completion, the entrance channel will be -11.5 feet at low tide, thereby allowing sailboats to come in when the tide is out.
The dredge material is being stored on marina property west of Marina Drive and north of Edwards Drive. The permit requires the material to be returned to the beach west of the channel; the first 8,000 cubic yards will be transferred in November when conditions allow. The remainder of the material will be moved depending on how fast high tides and storms move the sand down the beach.
This operation is different from what the marina calls “the push.” The construction of the breakwater disrupted the natural westward feeder flow of sand from Lily Point to Lighthouse Park and beyond. Every year in mid-November, the marina dredges approximately 7,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment from the east side of the breakwater and transfers it to the west side.
Vacation and Recreation
When the marina was being permitted back in the 1970s, the developer Waterparks International Inc. submitted an application to have the county vacate portions of Edward and Tyee drives in order to allow the excavation of the yacht basin. In turn, the county required the marina to grant easements for public access. The path that runs in front of the Oceanview condominium development, the public beach abutting the condos and the path that runs around the yacht basin are all public easements. The marina is also required to offer public restrooms and parking for people using these facilities.
Interestingly, the marina was also required to permanently dedicate for “Public Recreational Use” a 3.2-acre parcel located on the land, now being used to store the dredged material. The easement is recorded as “25 percent of the lot shall be dedicated permanently to Public Recreation Use.” However, no recent use of the property for public recreation has taken place.