PORT ANGELES — John Wayne Marina’s future has become crowded with possibilities, including a potential joint ownership-operating agreement between the city of Sequim and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, according to port, city and tribal officials Monday.
Port of Port Angeles staff has put forward leasing the publicly owned 300-slip Sequim facility as an option for addressing an estimated $22 million in float, breakwater and piling improvements they have said will be needed by 2035.
At 9 a.m. today, port commissioners will discuss the year-long process that would be required for requesting and reviewing “conceptual business models” for leasing the marina to a second party, according to a staff report prepared for the regular meeting at the port administrative office meeting room, 338 W. First St, Port Angeles.
The report was authored by port Executive Director Karen Goschen and newly named Director of Properties, Marinas and Airports John Nutter.
Nutter, the port’s former director of finance and administration, resigned in December 2017 to take a job as chief financial officer for Airborne Environmental Control Systems, a port tenant. Nutter returned to the port full time Nov. 19.
Goschen said Monday that by early 2019, probably by February, a finalized request-for-information packet for potential marina lessees will be discussed by the port commissioners at a public meeting.
For today’s meeting, port staff put together a “template” of steps for leasing the marina for commissioners’ consideration, Goschen said.
Lease proposals would be presented to commissioners in January or February 2020, followed by as-yet unscheduled meetings for public comments, board deliberations and further discussion “to develop a detailed proposal,” according to the report.
The request for information will include a “conceptual business model” focused on marina operations, investing in infrastructure improvements and identifying additional revenue sources and amenities.
It also will address retaining or expanding public access, supporting the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s oyster- and clam-seed aquaculture operation at the marina and collaborating with John Wayne Enterprises of Newport Beach, Calif.
John Wayne Enterprises, which controls licensing agreements covering use of the late actor John Wayne’s name, conveyed its interest in 1981 in approximately 29 acres of Sequim Bay tidelands to the port to build a solely public marina in an area frequented by Wayne.
“The city of Sequim and Jamestown Tribe have expressed interest in either ownership or ownership and/or operation of the marina,” Goschen said in the report.
“While multiple management companies have contacted the port to express their interest in either a facilities lease or managing the marina, staff has not actively pursued such options.”
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chairman Ron Allen said Monday the tribe has a strong interest in protecting its successful commercial Floating Upweller System of shellfish barges at the marina and in potentially developing land south of the marina that’s owned by John Wayne Enterprises.
Allen said affordable housing could be built at the site for employees working at a resort the tribe is building at its 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn.
“We are very interested in the marina,” Allen said.
“We have the same interest that the port and the city of Sequim has with regard to ensuring and preserving usage of the marina for the general public.
“We are willing to explore ways we might partner with the city of Sequim to acquire it.”
Allen said that might include the city owning the marina and the tribe managing it.
“The question is how we create a unique partnership for a marina that probably does not exist anywhere in America for that matter.
“I don’t know any other tribe that does not outright own their own marina or any other city that has a partnership with a tribe for a co-owned operation like a marina.”
Allen said the tribe will respond to the port’s request for information.
Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said Monday that nonprofit organizations and Native American tribes cannot outright own the marina, which lies within the city limit and can be owned only by public entities, according to the city shoreline master program.
“We are talking ownership,” Bush said.
“Operation can take many forms,” he added.
“Public decision-making is a key part of public ownership.
“It’s unlikely our shoreline master program would allow for any kind of lease that would take away public decision-making and the responsibility of the port as a public owner.”
Bush said the city has “pulled back” on hiring a consultant to conduct a study of the 20-year cost of repairs and upkeep of the marina should the city choose to own the facility.
Public Works Director David Garlington said Monday the city needs more information on where the port is headed to proceed with the study.
“If the city and/or the tribes are interested partners, this is something we will move forward with at that time,” Garlington said Monday.
The port began reviewing the marina’s future after a private developer inquired about purchasing it in March.
The Clallam County Assessor’s Office has valued the marina land and improvements at 2577 W. Sequim Bay Road at $7.7 million.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].