Mediator hired to deal with future of former graving yard site

A Tacoma mediator will meet with state and tribal representatives about what to do with 22.5 acres on the Port Angeles waterfront, now that the acreage won’t become the graving yard for Hood Canal Bridge components.

Tim Thompson, former aide to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, will help the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and the state Department of Transportation search for an answer to what will be done with the Marine Drive property just east of the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill.

Thompson, a partner in Thompson and Smitch Consultants, says he’ll provide “some strategic advice” to the parties.

He wants them to “go forward on two key issues”:

* What the Transportation Department can do with the location that now is both an incomplete construction site and an unfinished archeological dig.

* Issues of “the broader community,” including the labor leaders and local politicians who continue to advocate a graving yard on the property, where the state would have assembled concrete anchors, pontoons, and road decks to replace the east half of the Hood Canal Bridge in 2007.

The Port Angeles political and business efforts probably are headed for a dead end, Thompson said last week.

“I think the state’s decision to shut down the site is what stands,” he said.

“The longer-term issue is for the rest of the land along the waterfront, and what sort of relationships you have on future developments.”

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