RBAW Marine parkS Conservancy a non-profit dedicated to expanding opportunities for recreational boaters
Saving the Historic Lakebay Marina on the Key Peninsula
The Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW) and the 501(c)(3) RBAW Marine Parks Conservancy, currently being established by the Association, have entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement for the historic Lakebay Marina on the Key Peninsula in Pierce County, with the goal of preserving it in perpetuity as a Marine State Park. The Lakebay Marina, placed on the Pierce County Register of Historic Places in February 2019, has a heritage dating back 135 years. The building which houses the current marina and restaurant began in 1928 as an egg and poultry co-op that once had 370 members, shipped some 150 cases of eggs a week to destinations as far away as the East Coast, and served as a social gathering place for residents of the Key Peninsula. The egg and poultry warehouse closed in 1958 and was later converted to a marina. The original pier adjoining the marina, built in 1884, was owned by a gentleman named Carl Lorenz who ran a mill on Bay Lake and built boats to take the milled wood to market. Lakebay’s history is intertwined with the activities of the renowned Mosquito Fleet as well.
In recent years the marina has faced a variety of regulatory challenges. RBAW feared that the property could be sold for private use and lost to the public forever, so the organization stepped in and began conversations earlier this year about purchasing the property. Fundraising began in earnest earlier this month to raise the $1.25M for the purchase.
“In addition to being an important part of Pierce County’s history, generations of Pierce County residents and boaters from across the region have enjoyed Lakebay Marina,” said Bob Wise, President, RBAW. “We have an opportunity to preserve a facility for generations to come and to create a public asset that will be a major recreational, boating, and tourism draw for the entire South Sound. Keeping a marina like this in the public domain forever would be a great honor.”
RBAW believes preservation of Lakebay Marina is essential, particularly given its strategic location on the Key Peninsula; its deserved reputation as a destination for boaters; the beautiful natural surroundings that give it a rustic charm; and its close proximity to Penrose Point State Park. RBAW and the conservancy it is standing up are committed to working on pier and property upgrades that likely will cost another $1 million or more. However, job one – on which the Association needs help -- is to purchase and secure the property before it is sold for private use and lost to the public forever.
Originally named the "Puget Sound Interclub Association", one of the first goals of the organization back in the 1950s was to purchase land on Sucia Island and donate it to the State for a Marine Park in an effort to stop plans for development of the area for vacation cabins. The organization raised $25,000 which was reported to be half the value of the island in 1955!
The boaters of Washington can be eternally grateful that our inspired and hard working predecessors succeeded in this goal. Sucia Island exists as one of the crown jewels of Washington State Marine Parks.
A commemorative sign with all the original supporting clubs, plus others that joined the effort later, is posted at the head of the dock in Fossil Bay on Sucia Island. There's also a plaque on the point at the S.E. entrance to Fossil Bay and that point is named "Point Ev Henry" for RBAW's First President.