$1.2 million buys better boating



Short-term pain could result in long-term gain for users of the Redondo boat launch.

The facility is being renovated by its owner, the city of Des Moines, in a $1.2 million project that also involves improvements to a parking lot. Part of the work will require the launch to be closed the latter part of the boating season, perhaps as soon as mid-August.

City officials are apologizing in advance for the closure but say it can’t be helped. They also note the payoff will be a safer and more efficient facility for getting boats in and out of Puget Sound.

Des Moines inherited the launch from King County about six years ago when the city annexed the Redondo area, and officials decided it needed an upgrade. The project will add a second, longer ramp that will accommodate low-tide launches. Another key improvement will be a floating breakwater to fend off “heavy chop,” said Corbitt Loch, assistant city manager.

A nearby parking lot will be repaved and get new landscaping. The finished product will have 34 stalls for single vehicles, 40 for car-trailer combinations, and as many as 20 “holding spaces” for boaters waiting their turn to launch or retrieve vessels, Loch said.

The redone lot might also have a parking fee –– 50 cents or $1 an hour has been discussed –– for all vehicles, including those of non-boaters. Waterfront visitors and restaurant diners frequently use the lot, too, and the City Council is considering a mandatory fee to help cover maintenance costs. A voluntary fee now gets about 80 percent compliance, according to Loch.

Two-thirds ($750,000) of the total project’s cost will be paid through a state grant from the Inter-Agency Commission for Outdoor Recreation.

Because of its popularity, officials hope to keep the Des Moines launch open through the Labor Day weekend in September. But seasonal state regulations protecting salmon against marine construction could force a mid-August closure. Either way, a closure would last the rest of the year.

Besides its own city, the launch regularly draws boaters from Federal Way and Kent. The next closest launches are in Elliott Bay in Seattle and at Point Defiance in Tacoma.

There also is a sling launch at the Des Moines Marina, but launch fees range from $20 to $25.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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