From blueprints to reality

Published 11:31 am Sunday, April 7, 2013

After several years of planning and seeking money for the project, the proposed new dock master’s station and public restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway are closer to transforming from architectural drawings to brick and mortar.

“We hope to have a full set of drawings/plans and go out for contractor bids within a month. All CAMA, Division of Water Quality and Storm Water Management Permits have been approved,” wrote Fred Watkins, chairman of the Washington Harbor District Alliance’s maritime team. That team has been working closely with John Rodman, the city’s planning and development director.

It will be a great day for the city, the public and boaters once the new dock master’s station replaces the existing dock master’s station, known as the “Plywood Palace.” It’s long past time the city had a quality dock master’s office/public restrooms facility that looks as good as the remainder of the waterfront.

Some people don’t believe building the new facility will be money well spent. They’re wrong. Boating is an important part of the city’s history and economy. Catering to boaters who visit Washington for a few hours or a few weeks makes sense. Area businesses stand to benefit. An attractive, functional dock master’s station/restrooms will attract more boaters to the city.

The project should be viewed as an investment in the city’s greatest asset: the Pamlico River. There’s a reason people flock to the waterfront, especially the section from the west end of the parkway to the east end of the boardwalk that skirts the river and the manmade wetlands that stretches from the North Carolina Estuarium eastward to Moss Landing,

The City Council has allocated $300,000 toward the project.
A $200,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a $50,000 grant from the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and $50,000 from the city will help pay for the project. That investment should begin returning dividends soon after the project is completed.
As for the $300,000 allocated for the project, most of it — $245,000 — will go toward construction, $40,000 toward planning and design and $15,000 for contingency.
A design concept for public restrooms and a dock master’s facility at the west end of the waterfront promenade was developed for the purpose of seeking grants to pay for the building that would house the restrooms and dock master’s facility. The design of that building attempts to replicate the former Pamlico Point Lighthouse.
The public bathrooms, as well as showers for boaters and laundry facilities for boaters, would be on the ground floor of the structure. The dock master’s station would be on the second floor of the structure, according to a presentation made to the council in June 2012.

Kudos to those whose hard work and planning resulted in a promising project.