By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Within the field of applicants, too many are recreational boaters and none represent the port’s boatbuilder-shipyard or live-aboard communities, Jerry Ludke, Port of Port Angeles airport and marina manager, told port commissioners Tuesday at their regular meeting
Port staff will continue seeking applicants for the maximum 14-person panel, which now has 18 prospective members and still expects to hold its first meeting in April, Ludke said.
“We probably won’t have all nine recreational boaters” who applied to be on the committee, he noted.
Members will be chosen by Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren and commission President Jim Hallett, who was out of town Tuesday.
The committee is the outgrowth of contentious action the board took in late 2013 to raise 2014 moorage rates at the marina to 85 percent of the average of 20 marinas surveyed, including Seattle-area facilities that rate-increase critics said the port unfairly included in its review.
“We want to make sure they have the voice that they feel is necessary,” Commissioner Colleen McAleer said Monday.
“That’s what the outreach is all about.”
McAleer was sworn into office in January.
Further examination of 2014 rates should be at the top of the committee’s agenda, said committee applicant William Spring, an organizer of People for the Responsible Operation of the Port, a Boat Haven tenants group.
“We have been attempting to influence this process since September 2012, so we’re hopeful and relieved that we finally are entering a period of pro-active exploration of the issue,” Spring said after the meeting.
“It’s been such a long battle to get to this point that I am wrestling with skepticism, but our group is ready, willing and able to take a productive role in this process.
“The focus that has been agreed upon by the commissioners and People for the Responsible Operation of the Port includes moorage rates and potential adjustments to moorage rates; effective marketing of the Boat Haven with the goal of restoring viable occupancy levels; and discussion about amenities for the Boat Haven to attract boaters from outside the area.”
Boat Haven occupancy was 57 percent in February, with slips of all sizes wanting for tenants, Ludke said.
Another survey of marina rates may be conducted “to get a better idea of what marinas we truly should be comparing ourselves to,” he said.
As a rule, commissioners annually increase moorage rates but did not in 2008 and 2009 because of the nationwide financial collapse, he said.
“It’s important to do a marina survey so everyone thinks this is a valid measure so we can use it in the future and not have to disagree about it,” Ludke added.
Of the 18 applications for the committee, 13 were from Port Angeles, four were from Sequim and one was from Vashon Island, Ludke told commissioners.
Some applicants submitted applications to represent more than one sector of the boating community.
The nine recreational boaters who applied were joined by three applications to represent the Port Angeles Yacht Club, three trailer-boaters, three citizens-at-large, two sports anglers, one commercial angler and one tribal government representative.
Ludke said he would not release the applicants’ names Tuesday because they had not been reviewed by Hallett.
“I’d rather announce who is on [the committee] and just deal with that when we reach that decision,” he added.
Commissioners also approved spending up to $2,500 for at least one commissioner and two staff members to attend the Olympic Logging Conference from April 30 to May 2 at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria.
The budget for the trip includes co-sponsorship of the conference — which accounts for a quarter to half of the event’s budget — and lodging at the Executive House Hotel near the conference site, where rooms are cheaper than at the iconic Empress, port staff said Tuesday.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.