No Sail Canopy at Skansie Park

On February 9, 2017, Public Works reported that the small sails atop the Lift Station/Welcome Center would not be installed. As a result, Council was asked about the controversial 15-ft Sail Canopy inside the nationally designated "Net Yard" area within the boundaries of Historic Skansie Park.  In addition to view blockage and cost, a majority of Council members expressed a shared opinion that the integrity of the listed site would be better honored by removing the Sail Canopy from the plans.  

Thanks to their thoughtful deliberations and input from the community, Skansie Brothers Park remains a testament of our commitment to preserving Gig Harbor's maritime heritage.

 

Is Skansie Park Historic or Not?

December 21, 2016

By preserving historic properties, tourists and longtime residents are able to see and experience the cultural history of our town. Once compromised, they are lost forever.  It is critical for us to understand that the next generation can only inherit the places we (our community) choose to save.

How will we know it’s us without our past?

-John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath

When the City purchased the Skansie parcel back in 2002, the old chain-link fence that separated the Jerisich restroom and dock from the original Skansie homestead was removed. And although the parcels were combined, the historic Skansie District boundaries were documented and recorded in NR Skansie. Gig Harbor Historic Register HR 11-0001 also documents the Skansie designation. (more Skansie Park background)

This year, reconstruction of the restrooms, an above-ground lift station, and a visitors Welcome Center began.  As part of the project, a 15-ft contemporary "Sail Canopy" measuring larger than the covered Skansie Pavilion next to the brick house has been proposed.  It introduces an oversized view-blocking feature that will diminish the visual prominence of the Fishermen's Memorial and American Flag.

The proposed Sail Canopy encroaches into the"Net Yard" area.  It degrades the integrity of the historic Skansie District designation that was carefully detailed in the Gig Harbor Register of Historic Places nomination.

There is no documented justification for encroachment of a Sail Canopy within the historic Skansie District.  In addition, many in our community feel that the Canopy will interfere with the public's unencumbered use of the "Net Yard" area as it exists today.  The Certificate of Appropriateness is associated with demolition of the non-historic  1970's restrooms not the integrity of the Skansie Park District.

The Gig Harbor Commercial Fishermen's Club had originally agreed to provide boat and family names of over 300 commercial fishing vessels that could be etched into pavers and placed around the Fishermen's Memorial to honor over a century of local maritime heritage.  But with news of the Sail Canopy, the Club's membership voted to decline participation in the project. 

The integrity of a listed site is dependent upon community stewardship and a diligent commitment to preserve it.   

If you agree, let City Councilmembers know.  Preserve the integrity and spirit of Skansie Brothers Park for our community.  Share your voice.  Email your City Representatives


Excerpt from Skansie District Register Document: 

Net Yard -- ca. 1910

The open space on the property between the netshed and house served a vital role to the Skansies and their fishing operations. This net yard provided additional work space for the netshed, allowing ample room for fishermen to spread out their nets during regular maintenance and re-tarring of the nets. Originally the landscape gently sloped from the house's location at the south corner of the site down to the natural edge of the shoreline. The construction of a concrete bulkhead in ca. 1951 slightly altered the landscape, eliminating the slope and establishing a defined boundary between the shore and harbor. Despite the slight change, the landscape continued to function as a work space for the fishing operations.