Commissioners lend support to downtown fuel dock project

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Washington has moved one step closer to having a fuel dock downtown.

Beaufort County Commissioners signed on to support the effort at this week’s regular meeting of the board. Havens Wharf Marina, just west of the downtown waterfront, has proposed the project that would offer fuel and deep-water access to it.

The support was a requirement for a Boating Infrastructure Grant for transient recreational boating facilities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services grant program reimburses “up to 75 percent of costs for projects that construct, renovate or maintain tie-up facilities and related amenities for recreational transient vessels that are at least 26 feet long.”

Havens Wharf owner Travis Stephenson is applying for a BIG grant — a total of $10 million will be awarded for 10 projects in seven states under the Tier II program and $4 million for 33 projects in 23 states, commonwealth and territories under the Tier 1 program, according to a press release from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Havens Wharf project would include installation of new fuel tanks and dispensers; a new floating dock designated for fueling purposes only; a building which would include bathrooms, showers and a storefront in which to house the fueling operation; and repurposing of six of 22 existing Havens Wharf boat slips from long-term to short-term rentals to support the new transient boating traffic created by the fuel dock, according to the commissioners’ last meeting agenda.

It’s a much-needed service for downtown Washington, according to Beaufort County economic development Director Martyn Johnson.

“There is a demand, and this would be an opportunity to receive funds to put the fuel in. … The idea is to attract boaters from the Intracoastal Waterway and transient boaters to downtown Washington to increase tourism,” Johnson said about the county’s needed support. “It would enhance the quality of life for boaters in the Washington area.”