Roses, onions, lemons and bananas were on Port Director Dan Worra’s mind at the Port Commission meeting on Thursday.
In reviewing 2019, Worra took to using flora as a way to represent port events of the year.
Roses represented things that made a positive impact; onions were projects with multiple layers; lemons were things that started sour but turned into lemonade; and bananas were items that could have led to a slip, but were navigated without a fall.
The highlights (roses) for 2019 included the Swinomish Channel dredging support, Dakota Creek Industries finally clearing Coast Gaurd review for America’s Finest, the boat show, new hires, the electing of Bonnie Bowers to the board, Kathy Pittis’ election to the Washington Public Ports Association Executive Board, the completion of the Anacortes Maritime Strategic plan with the city and Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County, marina upgrades, and other projects and business highlights.
The North & West Basin Uplands Redevelopment, including the planned construction of a new events center bordering the Cap Sante Marina, was an onion. This project has been in the works since 2014 and has reached 30% completion on the master plan design, which Worra thanked the public for having a stake in.
“Some of the questions (people) had caused us to think and change some of the things we’re doing and really improve this project,” he said. “We really appreciate meeting with the public, it helped us refine what we’re doing.”
The A-dock redevelopment at Cap Sante Marina also had onion status. That project has faced delays caused from permitting, and the cost for the work has risen in the time it’s taken to acquire permits.
The Olson Building acquisition landed as a lemon. The Port purchased the building and the entire Marine Supply & Hardware Building block in 2014; a 2017 structural engineering report found the building to be unstable leaving the port with a tough decision: sell the building, spend millions to renovate it, or demolish it. A deal was worked out with the Anacortes Housing Authority to transfer ownership to the agency for the price of $1 in March.
“To be able to talk about some of these hard issues, and that we’re not afraid to bring these things up and to be transparent and to keep bringing this up among the commission and staff, there’s been respect,” Pittis said. “Even when there’s differing opinions, and those differing opinions need to be represented, I’m really thankful for everyone I get to serve with and the staff.”
The change in policy to make marina restrooms more restrictive was also addressed as a lemon, as were marina parking policies.
The management of derelict vessels in the Anacortes waterways was a banana. Despite posing an environmental threat, the port and Department of Natural Resources have removed the vessels before trouble set it.
“Thankfully we haven’t had any spills with these, and we’ll keep that going,” Worra said.
Looking ahead, the Port will move forward with its plans to replace A-dock at Cap Sante Marina to increase moorage space, a project that went through significant delays with acquiring permits. With the delays, the cost to pursue the project increased from $5.2 million to just shy of $7 million.
The delay in permitting and the consequences it has on scheduled projects is something port commissioners and Worra spoke to representatives about on their government advocacy trip last year to Washington, D.C.
The updated schedule for the A-dock project is shooting for opening day of boating season in spring 2021 to mark completion of the project.
“These are exciting times,” Worra said.
The port commissioners also voted to approve a consultant contract for a Marine Terminal Modernization Study at the meeting, which will cost the port $113,000 with $50,000 covered by a grant and the remaining paid by the port. The study will help envision the port’s future and apply for new grants, Worra said.
In the 2019 year-end financial review, Jill Brownfield, director of finance and administration, reported that operating revenue was about 12% ahead of budget at $18,204, 302. This is mainly due to grants received by the Anacortes Airport, fuel sales, marina fees and storage revenue.