The Art Inventory

CWB Opens The Northlake Wharf

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 25 April 2012


The Northlake Community Wharf, being developed by the Center for Wooden Boats Photo by K. Lindsay, Mar '12

On May 4th & 5th, the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) officially opens the Northlake Community Wharf.  This new North Lake Union site will host wooden boat classes and restoration projects, and provide valuable, complimentary services to those they offer at South Lake Union.  “It won’t be long before we’ll have boats in here,” said Dan Leach, CWB Community Engagement Lead & Boatwright, about the Northlake Wharf, “and cedar shavings all over the place.”

What they won’t have, hopefully only for a year or two, is water access.  The Northlake Wharf is ‘built’ on a long unused property, owned by King County METRO.  The County has yet to decide how, or who, will clean up the adjacent waterway – and do much needed restoration work to the pier.  Until the politicians and bureaucrats do work out a plan, the CWB will develop programs and project to use the 10,000 square feet of land and building, without water access.

Great Progress Made

Dan Leach, with an antique drill press donated to the Northlake Community Wharf by Century Link Photo by K. Lindsay

Seeing what they’ve accomplished so far, it is easy to believe that the CWB will achieve water access sooner or later.  After all, the CWB signed a lease to use the property back in December 2011 – and already the property is cleaner and ready to use!

CWB members cleared out thousands of yards of brambles and blackberry vines from the 5,000 square feet open land.  From the 1920’s era, 5,000 square foot building they removed 6,000 lbs. of trash, steam cleaned, and filled in holes in the floor.  They also installed a new roof, new windows, and tore out a superfluous wall.  “We’re trying not to make drastic changes,” Leach explained, but they have already turned an ill-kempt property into something useful, in a short period of time.

The Northlake facility can replace some of the 10,000 square feet of classroom and office space that CWB had access to before MOHAI moved into the Armory building at South Lake Union.  Yet, the Northlake Wharf will actually be more useful as a location for restoration and public lessons on historic wooden boats.  When visiting the South Lake Union facility, Leach explained, “you are only looking at a fraction of our collection.”  At the Northlake Wharf, in the high-beamed ceiling, restorations can be done inside, out of the weather – and, he admitted, “this facility can easily bring in a 30’ vessel.”

With Volunteer Power

The piers, worn and in need of clean up, of the Northlake Community Wharf. Photo by K. Lindsay

“We are a volunteer-powered organization,” Leach said, and it already benefits from the CWB’s many dedicated and diligent members.  Yet Leach, and others within CWB, look forward to welcoming new volunteers at the Northlake Community Wharf, particularly more Fremonsters and Wallingfordians.  After all, the CWB already draws people of all ages and skill levels.  “We have little kids,” Leach explained, “to older guys who remember working on boats,” at the area shipyards.

With an enviable location, beside the Harbor Patrol headquarters, and Gas Works Park, it will be possible for volunteers and the simply curious to stop by and see the vessels being worked on.  Even if the property doesn’t have water access, yet, the building does look out on Lake Union – and Leach envisioned a summer of opened doors and windows, and letting the lake atmosphere permeate.

Inside the new CWB Northlake Community Wharf, in March 2012. Photo by K. Lindsay

Meanwhile, “we will keep looking at the long-term water access,” Leach said.  Visions of the future of the Northlake Wharf – with a possible water taxi operation, and rides across Lake Union on CWB vessels (a 108 year old gill netter or a 105 year old steam launch, among others) – will require the Wharf to have water, someday.

“It’s really more of a question of how to do it,” Leach explained about getting access.  So far, “they’ve been great to work with,” he insisted about King County and METRO.  They have granted CWB a lease on the property (although it also lacks water and/or waste service – and that means a porta-potty for the present,) and will give credits for the improvements made to the site.

Come see the work done so far, and learn about classes, projects and activities coming to the Northlake Community Wharf – and Fremont.  The celebrations take place on Friday, May 4th, and Saturday, May 5th – the Opening Day of Boating Season.   Friday night will be the official opening ceremony, from 5:30p – 7p, with dignitaries and all that pomp and silly-cumstance.  Saturday, from 10a – 2p, get a tour of the facility and learn more about the classes and activities CWB plans to host.  So, show up and say hello to our newest neighbor – without crossing the lake!

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©2012 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


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