Battle over floating dock could sink local business

KINGSTON, Wash. -- A decision to move a small floating dock just 30 feet might be far enough to destroy a family-owned business operating at the Port of Kingston.

"Devastating for us," said business owner Beth Brewster. "It's absolutely devastating."

Brewster opened Kingston Adventures four years ago. She rents paddle boards, kayaks and bikes on a dock at the far end of the marina. The business holds a successful children's program that gets hundreds of youngsters on the water, and leads group tours.

"We've grown 70 percent, and it's because we've been able to use the floating dock for our clients," said Brewster, who served at least a thousand customers last year. "Without it, we cannot operate the way we need to succeed."

Kingston Adventures has used the dock for the past two years as a launch area for its paddle board and kayak outings. Brewster says Port officials tied it up next to her storage area and said it was hers to use.

About six weeks ago, port manager David Malone had his employees move the floating dock about thirty feet to another dock owned by the Poulsbo Sailing Club. He says it was a necessary step to comply with port regulations.

Malone insists he cannot return the dock for Brewster's use.

"There's a multiple number of reasons why legally I can't, as much as I would love to do so, because it would just resolve this whole thing," he said.

Malone became the new port manager in December, and says he thoroughly reviewed operations and discovered the floating dock belongs to the sailing club, and was never approved for use by Kingston Adventures.

He says its former location also violated safety regulations by possibly getting in the way of motorboats and sailboats trying to enter and leave their slips.

"The challenge here it's a safety issue, it's a permitting issue, it's an environmental issue," Malone said.

Brewster has hired a lawyer to fight the port's decision, and disagrees with Malone on many points, including whether the floating dock did indeed violate safety rules.