On the (Working) Waterfront

Kurt Hoehne Boating Business Environmental

For the most part, we recreational boaters can enjoy our pastime relatively oblivious of infrastructure. Hey, it’s just fun for us, let someone else worry about it. This week many of the movers and shakers of the “working waterfront” (including the folk who have to worry about the infrastructure for us) are gathering in Tacoma to solve big problems.

The third annual Working Waterfronts Symposium has hundreds of attendees from around the country who have gathered to talk about things like preserving the functional waterfronts, making them more accessible to the public, building on them and planning for future changes (like rising water levels).

According to Ryck Lydecker of Boat US, who led the first such symposium, it’s a far cry from two years ago. “It will be interesting to see this,” he said.  “There’s a lot more going on now than when we started.”

I’ll be writing about this in the Northwest Yachting Wavewriter column, but for now I can convey some early impressions.

Some very smart people from very diverse disciplines and points of view are putting effort into planning waterfronts. On its face, their task seems nearly impossible, i.e. to blend profit from several different interests, public access, environmental improvement (not just preservation), historical preservation, homeland security aesthetics etc. It’s impressive.

As a recreational boater, it’s a little humbling when you learn what goes into things like the shipping facilities and other waterfront functions. And to see the pains everyone is taking to be good waterfront citizens. It makes our complaints about facilities or regulations seem, if not trivial, at least a little thin.

It was nice to see and listen to some impressive politicians firsthand. If ever there was a speaker to inspire and pull people together to put forth their best effort, it’s Ron Sims. His positive energy pervaded the plenary session yesterday. And it appears boaters and the environment have a friend in Kevin Ranker, Democratic State Senator from the 40th Legislative District of Washington (including the San Juan Islands). A staunch environmentalist, he believes economic growth and protecting the environment can and should go hand in hand. He’s also a sailor.

When my column on the symposium is written, I’ll post it here as well.

 

 

Kurt Hoehne

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