Clallam, Port Angeles officials mull port building for emergency operations, dispatch

Plan is to move center out of courthouse

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County and the city of Port Angeles are eyeing a Port of Port Angeles building as the potential site for a new emergency operations and dispatch center.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith floated the idea to the Board of County commissioners and the Port of Port Angeles commissioners during a joint meeting Monday.

“We’ve been talking for two and a half years,” Benedict said.

“It’s time to make concrete steps.”

In February the county and city were exploring whether it would work to move the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) out of the courthouse basement and into the Lincoln Center, but Port Angeles School District Superintendent Martin Brewer has said such a move wouldn’t fit with the district’s mission.

Now, the city and county are looking at the Port of Port Angeles’s 93,500-square-foot 10.10 Building adjacent to Fairchild International Airport, Benedict said.

“It would be less expensive to lease than to build a new structure,” Benedict said.

He said officials are looking at submitting an application for a port security grant in hopes of securing more than $1 million.

While plans don’t need to be concrete, Benedict said the application will be more successful if they have at least identified a building.

“The idea would be to put in for a $1 million to $1.5 million grant to make the technical alterations to accommodate dispatch, emergency operations and possibly parks and recreation and a west side fire station,” Benedict said.

“If we have everyone in agreement on that we can get letters of support.”

Port Executive Director Karen Goschen said that Monday morning port staff discussed delaying Port of Port Angeles projects that would seek funding through the same grant in an effort to make the county and city’s project a stronger proposal.

“We think it would be stronger if there is only one application from the county,” Goschen said.

Smith said the city and county have both authorized staff to pursue options for moving the EOC to a location that would also include dispatch.

“Our goal is to run down any suitable and highly promising concept that we can,” Smith said. “This looks like it’s front and center right now.”

County and port commissioners all said this was the first they had heard of the idea of leasing the building — which previously housed Westport — from the port.

“I fully support getting the EOC out of your basement,” said port Commissioner Steve Burke. “My concern is when we lease out the rest of the building and there’s no more office space.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it.”

Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer said this was also the first she had heard of the idea.

“I want to support our community in having an EOC that is viable, but we have to look at the economics of this,” she said.

McAleer said the port has been in discussion with a potential tenant for that space and she doesn’t wan’t to lose that company’s business.

County Commissioner Mark Ozias said there has been no formal discussion with the Board of County Commissioners regarding a lease with the port, but said that it looked like there is support for staff to continue vetting the idea.

“I have long felt it makes sense to have all the services consolidated and Fairchild [International Airport] is the best place to have it,” said Port Commissioner Connie Beauvais. “I would be excited to use a port building.

“I can’t sit here and say ‘yes this is going to work’ but I think we’re all on board in looking at the possibilities of doing that.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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