Karen Goschen, Port of Port Angeles Executive Director, talks about a public process to consider a developer’s interest in purchasing the John Wayne Marina at a meeting at the marina. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Penisula News Group

Karen Goschen, Port of Port Angeles Executive Director, talks about a public process to consider a developer’s interest in purchasing the John Wayne Marina at a meeting at the marina. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Penisula News Group

John Wayne Marina access a public concern in light of proposed offer

SEQUIM — Users of the John Wayne Marina told Port of Port Angeles officials how they feel about the possible sale of the marina to a private investor.

They’re not interested.

At a meeting at the marina east of Sequim on Friday, about 75 community members expressed fears that they would lose public access if the marina were sold.

“We’ve watched (public access) areas disappear on the [North Olympic] Peninsula,” Herb Ervin said. “Let’s keep this in public hands. If this is in public control, let’s keep it that way.”

Developer Ron Cole — owner of Buffalo River Holdings Inc., of Bend, Ore. — has asked if the port, a countywide taxing district, was interested in selling the marina but has not made an offer and will not develop a proposal until he knows that the port wants to sell the publicly owned, 300-slip facility, said Port Executive Director Karen Goschen.

Goschen said the meeting held at the marina conference room for Sequim Yacht Club members and “other marina stakeholders” was the beginning of a public process by which port commissioners Connie Beauvais, Steve Burke and Colleen McAleer could gauge the public’s interest in selling the marina.

“I told him (the developer) there would need to be a public process,” Goschen said.

“There won’t be any decision made without public input,” she added.

No one spoke at the meeting as a representative of the developer.

McAleer, District 1 port commissioner, told those attending Friday’s meeting that Cole’s proposal offered a chance for the public and port to together create a long-range plan for the marina, regardless of the developer’s offer.

“My intent is more about, ‘What is the vision [for the marina]? This has a lot of potential. Yes, it was kick-started by this (proposal). Please don’t think this is a done deal. It absolutely is not.”

Goschen said that comments from the meeting would be brought to the next port commissioner meeting on Tuesday, March 27.

Ray Mitchell, a Sequim Bay Yacht Club member, told Goschen and other port officials, “This is valued public space. You think the developer’s going to keep this public? Everybody in here says no.”

Mitchell said he doubted that a private owner would allow the Sequim Bay Yacht Club, which has about 115 members, the same access they have now, with one small meeting room and another large conference room overlooking Sequim Bay.

“We need a home,” Mitchell said following Friday’s meeting. “I don’t know where we’d go.”

He said the marina gets extensive use and not just from yacht club members, noting the number of families who throughout the year come to fish and play in the water and host weddings.

“It’s just a shame,” he said. “It sounds like the port has made up its mind. They know they’ve got a valued piece of property.”

A number of other meeting attendees also said they are concerned that a private owner would close off access to the water.

“This is a public park as far as I’m concerned; it was gifted,” Paul Wesseler said. “You will hear from the people of Clallam County.”

John Wayne Marina was constructed in the mid-1980s on 22 acres of land donated by the family of John Wayne. The late actor visited Sequim Bay waters on his yacht, the Wild Goose, and made it known that he envisioned a marina there, port officials have said.

“We know that public access must be maintained even if (the marina) is in private hands,” Goschen said. “There are legal ways to do that, and that’s for the attorneys to work out.”

Goschen told commissioners at a Port of Port Angeles meeting on March 13 that she has forwarded reports and financial information about the marina to Cole since October 2017.

Cole visited the area and expressed an interest in redeveloping The Landing mall, and he drove by the port’s Port Angeles Boat Haven and John Wayne Marina, she said.

“When he saw John Wayne Marina, he saw a lot of potential to make improvements and enhancements both for the marina and the community,” Goschen said on March 13.

Among the enhancements Cole envisions could be shops, Goschen said.

“Any enhancement would be helpful, but it still needs to be controlled by the public,” said Eric Schouten, owner of Ocean Boatworks.

The marina features permanent and guest moorage, marine services, a restaurant (Dockside Grill), showers, laundry and banquet facilities, and provides boat launch ramps, fuel facilities, public beach access and picnic areas.

It generated $1.2 million in revenue in 2017 and $772,000 in expenditures, including $370,000 in salaries, wages and benefits, according to a report on 2017 port finances that was presented at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

The port’s report showed a marina surplus, before depreciation, of $457,000; depreciation, including donated assets, of $216,000, and a net operating surplus of $100,000.

Paula Topjun said she moved to Sequim in 2013 in large part because of what the marina offers.

“We moved all the way across the country for this,” said Topjun, now a Sequim Bay Yacht Club member.

She said her group is a valuable part of a community that makes much use of the public access on Sequim Bay. “If this becomes private, (we) can’t do that. There’s no guarantee.”

City of Sequim officials have indicated an interest in John Wayne Marina becoming a park district, port officials noted in a handout at Friday’s meeting.

“The largest impact will be to this stakeholder group right here,” Goschen said.

A crowd of concerned residents listen as Karen Goschen, Port of Port Angeles Executive Director, talks about a public process to consider a developer’s interest in purchasing the John Wayne Marina. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Penisula News Group

A crowd of concerned residents listen as Karen Goschen, Port of Port Angeles Executive Director, talks about a public process to consider a developer’s interest in purchasing the John Wayne Marina. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Penisula News Group

More in News

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

Instructor Josh Taylor, left, points out the workings of an electric vehicle on Wednesday at the Auto Technology Certification Program at Peninsula College. Nick Schommer, center, and Brian Selk get ready to do some testing on the electric auto’s parts from underneath the vehicle. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
College’s automotive technology program gets a reboot

Students can earn a certificate separate from two-year degree

PT transportation tax dollars to be put to work

Benefits district to raise $400,000 to $600,000 in first year

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Retired teacher Nancy McCaleb speaks in support of striking paraeducators in the Port Angeles School District as Port Angeles Paraeducators Association President Rebecca Winters listens during a rally on Thursday at Shane Park.
About 130 rally in support of paras

District officials say funding is statewide problem

Mark Nichols.
Proposed changes to public defender caseloads could hurt rural counties

Annual limits starting in 2025 may create staffing issues

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific, cleans off a sign he used to paint a bicycle lane on Sims Way and Kearney Street, the site of the new roundabout. The workers needed at least two days of 47 degrees or above in order to paint the pedestrian crosswalks and other necessary markings. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
New bike lane in Port Townsend

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific,… Continue reading

Two-lane bypass to be installed Monday

Contractor crews working for the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Twice daily bridge inspections start next week

Bridge preservation engineers from the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Funding farm-to-school programs

In the 2021-2023 state budget, Washington set aside money specifically for the… Continue reading

Gus Griffin, 11, second from left, and classmates dig up weeds in one of Port Townsend’s three gardens on March 28. (Grace Deng/Washington State Standard)
Farm-to-school programs flourish in Washington

Demand from school districts outpacing state funding

Jefferson enacts 1-year moratorium on STRs

County wants to consider possible regulations for rentals