ANDERSONISLAND-- It is a sparsely populated community, mostly of retired residents looking for a quiet place to live. There is one general store, one gas station and a restaurant that opens occasionally. But there is a growing call among some who live on Anderson Island in Pierce County for more attention, at least when it comes to ferry service.
What we have is a changing demographic on the island, said Dave Jacobsen with the Anderson Island Citizens Advisory Board, There is a contingent that believes if you build it, they will come. If you bring more people (on the ferry), it'll add revenue to pay for itself.
Jacobsen believes Anderson Island needs more ferry runs, particularly earlier and later in the day during the week. In the summer months, the relatively small ferries are packed with cars and people, leading to long wait times. During the week, the first ferry to leave the island is also frequently full.
Last month, Pierce County paid fora new study to look at service to Anderson Island, to analyze if runs should be added or adjustedand whether it's worth it. Changes to ticket pricing and purchasing is already on the way.
Ithik the issue is property values, said AndersonIsland resident Vernam Wilkinson, If there was more service, there'd be more development.
Which is why the issue is controversial. Many of the island's 1,100 homeowners would prefer Anderson Island remain somewhat remote.
It's a tight community because a lot of people can't commute on a daily basis, commented resident EileenHadden, If it becomes a place people can commute to, you're going to see (retirees) priced out.
Pierce County has its own ferry system, which it contracts out. The 2014 budget is $5.4 million, with just over $1 million subsidized by county road tax revenue. Adding a run would cost $70,000-a-year.
Ithink it's a necessary study, said PierceCounty Councilman Doug Richardson, The question is how do we help the island's economic viability.
I think Anderson Island needs to decide what are the 'right runs', he continued.
Richardson added the county is looking at possibly renting its ferries out for private events as a way to generate revenue.
The study on ferry service will be complete in Feburary 2015.