Pierce County Building Official Rick Hopkins, left, supervises as access to Lakebay Marina is blocked Feb. 26. Signs read, “this structure is unsafe and its occupancy has been prohibited…” Photo by Danna Webster, KP News

On Friday, Feb. 26, Pierce County employees boarded up the entrance to Lakebay Marina for the third time in a year. Reports to Pierce County Planning and Land Use about the public coming through a security gate and using the dock resulted in the action by county officials and the sheriff’s department.

“We are re-securing the dock for public safety,” said Rick Hopkins, building official for Pierce County. “We are more than willing to work with him (marina owner Mark Scott). We just need proof that people can get out there and that it’s safe.”

It was not the first time the county took such action.

On July 20, 2015, the pier and building were condemned based on concerns about the restaurant structure, new finger float docks and moorage of people living on boats. With no pump-out station or legal agreements required by the state, both the docks and liveaboards compounded the difficulty of the owner’s situation.

In late July, Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young worked with Pierce County Planning and Land Services to expedite the issuance of needed building permits in less than two days.

The county barricaded the dock entrances again Aug. 11 after learning the restaurant was still open and serving the public. And seven days later, all required permits were approved and the marina was again allowed to begin needed repairs. Most recently, Feb. 26, after the county received a call about public accessing the pier, Hopkins, construction workers, and a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived at the marina to board up the dock.

According to Lakebay Marina owner Mark Scott, the pier and the building requirements were completed Feb. 21 and he is hoping to be open for business April 1. “I’ve been breaking my back working on this since July 27. The pier has been ready for a long time. I just need to get the county to sign off on that and remove the gates,” he said.

Hopkins said the county made a promise to Scott to help him reopen the marina, but a lack of monthly updates and lack of a letter from Scott’s engineer caused the county to close the dock completely at the end of February.

From Scott’s perspective, the county’s on again-off again decisions seemed mean-spirited, though he noted the county has supported his efforts to register the marina as a historic landmark. “The county could have handled it differently. On one end they (landmarks commission) were great while the other end (building officials) condemned,” Scott said.

On March 16, the marina’s application with the Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission moved forward. Pierce County Planner Chad Williams said the commission has some more information to gather and, if Landmarks recommends it, there is a good chance the county council will approve it. Successful applications give the owners the ability to apply for preservation funds for maintenance improvements.

Councilmember Young continues to support the progress of the marina. His assistant, John Jolibois, said Young “heard loud and clear from concerned constituents that they wanted Lakebay Marina up and running. Having grown up in the area, Derek knows this is a popular boating destination and helps the local economy.”

Progress on landmark status and lifting of the recent condemnation was good news to Scott, but to reach his goal of opening the first of April he has several items to check off his to-do list: food permits, hiring cooks and servers, a redesign of his septic system, and a working alarm system. “There are a lot of moving parts,” Scott said. “All I can do is just keep checking them off. I’m aiming for April Fool’s Day, April 1, to open up. Let’s see if we get fooled.”

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