DNR, RBAW Conservancy Finalize Purchase of Historic Lakebay Marina

Following a years-long effort to preserve the historic Lakebay Marina in Pierce County, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW) Marine Parks Conservancy have finalized their joint purchase of the facility this week.

The purchase will keep the marina in the public domain for future generations, and provide high quality, sustainable recreational opportunities, improved boating facilities, and protect important beds of kelp and eelgrass that support juvenile salmon in Mayo Cove. The two organizations will proceed with planning and upgrades that will reestablish this South Sound facility a destination point for the public.

Purchase of the marina and 2.8 acres of upland and tideland property, adjacent to Penrose Point State Park, was finalized thanks to a $1.776 million Boating Facilities Program Grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). Lakebay Marina was established in 1928 and placed on the Pierce County Register of Historic Places in February 2019.

“This a great story that benefits all of Washington,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “I’m proud we could step in with RBAW to be able to secure this funding to keep this facility publicly owned, safe for salmon and open to give everyone access to our waterways.”

“This is a fantastic day for recreational boaters, residents of the Key Peninsula and the State of Washington,” said Bob Wise, President of the RBAW Marine Parks Conservancy. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to ensure that public access to the Lakebay Marina will be preserved and enhanced for generations to come.”

“This purchase is a great example of how we all need to work together to make sure Washington remains a great state for boaters,“ said Megan Duffy, RCO director. “The funding came from boaters, through a program that uses boating gas taxes to pay for boating facilities, and was implemented through a state agency-private sector partnership. We can do great things when we all work together.”

“I applaud the RBAW and DNR for their work,” said Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young. “We’ve saved a popular destination that will allow public access to the water and protect Puget Sound.”

Lakebay Marina had fallen into disrepair over the past several years. DNR and RBAW’s Marine Parks Conservancy developed the proposal to preserve an important public boating and marine fuel facility in South Puget Sound.

In addition to the RCO funding, the Lakebay Marina purchase and renovation received $250,000 from Pierce County, a $100,000 allocation from the 2020 Supplemental Capital Budget, and tens of thousands of dollars in private donations.

The partnership will conduct public meetings early next year to garner ideas for renovating the marina, phasing in improvements, and providing high quality recreational opportunities in an environmentally sustainable way.

New facilities already envisioned for the marina will include recreation and picnic areas, public restrooms, recreational moorage, and vessel pump-out and fueling facilities. The acquisition will ensure public recreational access to Puget Sound and protect important beds of kelp and eelgrass that support juvenile salmon in Mayo Cove.

A Historic Marina
Initially built as a pier for small cargo ships, Lakebay Marina became a popular facility in the area in 1928, when it began servicing the renowned Mosquito Fleet and housed a small egg and poultry cooperative. It also served as a dance hall and gathering place for the community.

In recent years, however, the facilities have fallen out of compliance with building, safety and health codes.

About DNR: Ensuring Washington’s Aquatic Lands Remain Healthy and Productive
As stewards of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, we are responsible for ensuring protection of habitat and fostering public access and water-dependent activities for future generations. DNR generates revenue by selling the rights to harvest renewable resources like wild geoducks and other shellfish and from leasing and licensing state-owned aquatic lands.

That revenue is reinvested to manage and restore Washington’s aquatic ecosystems; keep them free of derelict maritime equipment; protect their health and productivity, and fund local projects that ensure the public can enjoy our aquatic lands.

About RBAW: RBAW, founded in 1956, is entering its seventh decade of service as the voice of the 240,000 recreational boaters in Washington State. The organization has about 8,000 members through boating clubs and another 1,300 individual members. One of the RBAW’s first acts, in the mid-1950s, was to acquire Sucia Island and turn it over to the state to become a marine park. The Lakebay project is a return to RBAW’s roots.