Group to discuss cost of luring NOAA base to Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Potential costs of attracting the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Seattle-based research fleet will be the topic of discussion when a group of community leaders meets next week.

NOAA now bases the fleet on Lake Union in Seattle, but it is looking for a new location and plans to move in 2012.

Port Angeles is one of the potential locations, and NOAA likely will seek proposals from interested ports in November, said Bob McChesney, Port of Port Angeles executive director.

The group, known as the NOAA “Community Leadership Team” and organized by the port, is made up of about 15 representatives from local government entities and other organizations, he said.

Made up of city leaders

McChesney confirmed that representatives of the city of Port Angeles, the port, and Harbor-Works Public Development Authority are involved but declined to identify the members or any other organizations that might be represented.

He said that he thought it would inappropriate to disclose that information.

The group was created to compile a “comprehensive proposal” to NOAA to relocate the fleet to Port Angeles, he said.

McChesney said a date for the meeting next week hasn’t been set, but it will take place at the port’s administration building at 338 W. First St., Port Angeles.

The group first met last Thursday at the port administration building.

The cost to the port of creating and submitting a proposal is not known.

McChesney said that when the group meets next week, it will discuss anticipated costs, which he said he did not have available on Thursday.

McChesney said that creating a proposal could include hiring an engineer, an architect, a planner or even a lobbyist.

What is included in the proposal, and what expertise the port would need, depends on what NOAA will seek in a proposal.

“It could be expensive,” McChesney said.

McChesney said the Port of Bellingham, which could be one of the port’s main competitors in attracting NOAA, has hired a lobbyist.

Harbor-Works contribution

Orville Campbell, Harbor-Works board chairman, said Wednesday that the public development authority would consider covering some of the cost.

Interested ports have until Sunday to announce their intent to submit proposals.

McChesney said he has taken care of that.

McChesney has said that Terminals 1 and 3 on the west end of Port Angeles and the former Rayonier Inc. pulp mill at the end of Ennis Street are possible locations for NOAA.

Use of the terminals would depend on whether Westport Shipyard expands or whether the former KPly mill, which closed last November, is reopened, he said.

NOAA representatives took a tour of the harbor in February.

McChesney said they appeared to have the most interest in the site of the former Rayonier Inc. mill on Port Angeles Harbor.

The site, which is still owned by Rayonier, is in its eighth year of a state Department of Ecology cleanup project.

Rebecca Lawson, Department of Ecology toxics cleanup regional manager, said the site should be cleaned up by December 2012.

Don Schwindamin, Rayonier attorney, has said that the site’s 4-acre pier has been maintained and could be used by NOAA.

Harbor-Works was created in May by the city and port to oversee the cleanup of the 75-acre Rayonier site, and acquire it for redevelopment.

The site is contaminated with pockets of PCBs, dioxins, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead and other hazardous contaminants created during the 68 years that Rayonier operated a pulp mill there.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or tom.callis@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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