Boaters have much to celebrate with the successful purchase of the Lakebay Marina property in Mayo Cove on the Key Peninsula. Plans to purchase the 18-acre property were in play for over two years, while logistics were resolved and funds secured. Thanks to the persistence of RBAW (Recreational Boating Association of Washington), the $1.6 million purchase-sale agreement closed on December 28, 2021. RBAW partnered with DNR (State Department of Natural Resources) to solve logistics, address environmental concerns, and apply for funds from the State’s Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to purchase the property. State Parks was also involved in discussions regarding future plans for the site.

The cooperative arrangement calls for DNR to oversee the aquatic lands and lease; State Parks to manage the uplands area; and RBAW to develop plans for renovation of the marina over the next several years. It just so happens that Bob Wise, President of RBAW, is knowledgeable about building and maintaining marinas; he currently owns four marinas on the Olympic Peninsula. The ultimate goal is to turn the Lakebay property over to the State Parks and Recreation Commission to operate as a marine park.

Historic Pier and Building overlooking the bay at Lakebay Marina

When Bob Wise heard about the deteriorating conditions at Lakebay Marina and the challenges to maintain the facility, he set the wheels in motion to create a non-profit branch of RBAW, dedicated to expanding the opportunities for recreational boaters. Meanwhile, the County as well as DNR were concerned about serious code and safety violations and environmental contamination; it became clear that owner, Mark Scott, did not have the resources to repair the facilities and meet required responsibilities and obligations. DNR set about looking for a new owner to help purchase and improve the property.

Demolition and removal of the deteriorating docks could begin as soon as spring 2022. The most immediate need, said Bob Wise, is to stabilize the current infrastructure and complete environmental remediation due to damage caused from a fuel tank. Future plans include the installation of new docks, new utilities, a fuel dock, pumpout facilities, and a rebuild and extension of the boat ramp. Upland amenities are planned to include social gathering spaces for boaters and the community, along with picnic areas and public restrooms. “It’s going to be an amazing facility for the public,” said Bob Wise. There are still many details to work out, and DNR plans to hold a series of public meetings to solicit input regarding improvements. Additional grant monies and donations will be needed for planned renovation and construction. Boaters and community members are encouraged to continue their generous donations to RBAW’s non-profit Marine Parks Conservancy for future improvements and acquisitions, go to https://www.rbawmarineparksconservancy.org/ to contribute and learn more.

The bulk of the funds for the purchase came from grant monies awarded through the State’s Boating Facilities Grant Program (BFP). The BFP grant program sets aside funds collected from boaters’ gas taxes for projects that benefit recreational boaters. Application for State grant funds was a team effort by DNR and RBAW. Pierce County contributed an additional $250,000 and another $100,000 came from the State. RBAW donated the balance for the purchase of the Lakebay Marina property through the collection of donations from boaters, yacht clubs, and community members.

View of deteriorating docks in front of the pier at Lakebay Marina

The collaboration of DNR, RBAW, and State Parks along with other organizations and community leaders proved to be a success story – one that saved an historic site for the general public to enjoy for years to come. Without this collaboration, saving the marina may never have happened.

The Lake Bay Community site is one of only two public piers on the Key Peninsula. The Marina is listed on the Pierce County Register of Historic Places and on the Washington Heritage Registers. The pier was originally built in the late 1800’s, from which steamboats, known as the Mosquito Fleet, delivered freight, groceries, mail, livestock and people throughout Puget Sound. In the late 1920’s, the Washington Cooperative Egg & Poultry Association built a warehouse at the end of the pier, which later served as a community dancehall and café. Thanks to community involvement and leadership, boaters can now look forward to an exciting new facility in South Puget Sound in the foreseeable future.