Remodel to deliver first section of waterfront boardwalk

View from the water of 1 Spring Street building

By Steve Wehrly, Journal reporter

The first section of the long-talked-about boardwalk, from the Port to Cannery Landing, won Town Council approval at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Roger Bennett, owner (since 1980) of the building at 1 Spring Street that houses an ice-cream shop, The Place restaurant, and a whale-watching business, applied in May for a shoreline development permit to build the boardwalk on the water side of his property, and also to improve the deck on the ferry dock side.

“I appreciate getting the permits, but they cost me over $2,000 and took seven months,” said Bennett, who expects to start construction sometime early next year.

He’s not happy that it took seven months to get the permit because he wanted to open the deck for lunch and light foods during tourist season, and he had to forego a small expansion of his building. Bennett prepared the paperwork for the permit and shepherded the project through the permitting process.

The project is fairly extensive. In addition to the boardwalk, Bennett will put stairs on the Spring Street side of the building, an awning over the ice cream shop (“so the ice-cream won’t melt”), a covered porch, with sunroom and a small building with a kitchen on the deck, replacement of waterside pilings and a small boat lift under the building.

Bennett hopes to begin work early next year, but does not expect all parts of the project to be done “for several years” — partly because he will be doing some of the work himself.

The total cost of the project will be about $30,000, according to papers filed with the town.

Marilyn O’Conner, director of the Port of Friday Harbor, said that the 1 Spring Street project fits in with the port’s long-term plans for the waterfront.

“Roger’s waterfront boardwalk is a subject we’ve talked about off and on over the years,” O’Connor said. “The port commission has had a long-standing interest in a waterfront walkway, to improve and formalize the public’s easy access to the shoreline.”

The port will begin public discussions about their intentions for the waterfront next year.

The building, constructed in the 1870’s, over the course of its lifetime has been a warehouse, the town hall and jail, and Friday Harbor headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Roger Bennett clearly expects it will have several more lives before he’s finished with it.