Fog and still waters at the Joemma Beach dock. Photo by Kevin Reed

The governor’s budget recommends the closure of Joemma Beach State Park. A crowd gathered at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, Jan. 22, to hear Tom Pew, Manager of Kopachuck Area, and other state park rangers present the decision making process. All Washington State Parks were evaluated according to the goals of Centennial Vision 2013. Thirteen parks were found to be inconsistent with those standards: one is Joemma Beach and a second is Kopachuck in Gig Harbor. In order to meet the state required 10 percent budget cuts, the state park department is recommending closure: lock the gates, board up the facilities and allow walking access only. “It’s not too late,” Pew said. The governor’s budget is the first step. The next step is for the legislature to approve the recommendation. For citizens who want to influence that decision, the timeline is only a couple of weeks to contact state representatives.

Commissioner Chairman, Elmer Anderson, Key Pen Parks, assured the crowd that they would make every effort to save the park: first as a state park and second as a district park. In a later email, Anderson told KPNews, “As a parks district, first and foremost, Key Pen Parks fully supports any and all efforts to maintain Joemma Beach as a state park and to keep it open to the public. We consider Joemma Beach unique in its location, assets and usability as a park. The loss of the boat ramp and dock would be devastating to water recreation in the south Puget Sound.

Failing this, Key Pen Parks will attempt to do whatever is necessary to obtain title to the property and assume responsibility for maintaining it as a viable asset to the Key Peninsula.” The commissioners of both Key Pen and Gig Harbor had met with state representatives that afternoon.

Pew urged all in attendance write letters to the legislators and the state park department. “The elected officials should listen,” he said.