Longbranch Marina Begins Upgrade

Replacement of old creosote-laced wooden pilings at the Longbranch Marina began in early February. The $40,000 project has been years in the planning, according to Mark Runions, chair of the Longbranch Improvement Club dock committee.

A work barge pulls an old piling from the Longbranch Marina dock. The diver in the water cut off the piling at the mud line using a compressed-air-driven chain saw. Photo: Lynn Carr

An underwater assessment study completed in 2014 identified seven pilings as having between zero and 25 percent service life remaining. More pilings will need to be replaced within the next 10 years, he said, but will be done piecemeal due to the expense.

The new pilings will be made of galvanized steel instead of creosote wood. Creosote has been used as a wood preservative for more than a century but it breaks down over time and can be toxic to marine plants and animals.

The marina has been operated by the LIC since the mosquito fleet ferry service was discontinued in the 1950s. The newest pilings were part of an expansion in the 1980s. A long-range plan has been developed based on the underwater survey and new upgrade requirements published by the Department of Natural Resources, according to Runions.

The LIC owns the dock from the parking lot and the piers and floats, but leases the land under the marina from the DNR. The parking lot is a leased easement from Pierce County (actually known as Wharf Street).

Since the replacement of the old ferry landing pier several years ago, the LIC has set aside a portion of income from member and visitor moorage in a marina reserve fund. The money generated by the marina covers its operations and funds preservation efforts of the historic clubhouse and LIC sponsored community programs.