PORT TOWNSEND — The Northwest Maritime Center withdrew its proposal Monday to the Port of Port Townsend for a 50-year lease that would have given the nonprofit operational management of the Point Hudson campus and marina.
The plan would have infused the port with $3.5 million upfront, while committing to $1 million in capital improvements and $350,000 in annual lease payments.
“Under the terms of the agreement, there was a precondition tied to our proposal: The port would have had to commit to replacing the south jetty,” said Executive Director Jake Beattie on Monday.
That project is somewhat in doubt according to comments made by Executive Director Sam Gibboney at last Wednesday’s port commission meeting.
Gibboney told commissioners that the port “may have insufficient resources to complete the south jetty.”
Beattie said the 18 members of the NWMC board of directors voted unanimously Saturday to withdraw the proposal.
A letter explaining the decision was hand-delivered to port commissioners Monday morning by NWMC board president Steve Oliver.
“Our board had a good discussion about this, and members really considered if this was the right time to leave,” said Beattie. “They talked about how much work we had put into this and how the community had rallied behind it.
“Given the direction that the commission gave to their staff on April 11, we were anticipating a discussion item for a counter proposal on the agenda. Given that there has been no counter proposal, nor any formal written response to the proposal we gave them back in early January, our board looked at the process and looked at our upcoming season and decided that we would withdraw.”
“We spent a year and a half examining the financial challenges of Point Hudson based on documents and financial statements the port provided and set into motion by a conversation port staff initiated. We were in mediated negotiations with the port for the last quarter of last year and the proposal we created was the manifestation of those discussions.”
Beattie said the NWMC collaborates with many organizations so he knows what a willing partner feels like.
“This hasn’t felt like that for awhile.”
Port Executive Director Gibboney responded to the withdrawal of the proposal.
“The port deeply appreciates the effort and creative thinking put forth by the NWMC. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate and serve the community.”
Beattie said the NWMC has a lot to do over the next few months.
“This is going to be our busiest year and we are going into our busiest season. We’ve got some incredible momentum and success that we have to manage well,” Beattie said.
He reported the new 70/48 race has 125 teams entered, and 45 teams are scheduled to participate in the Race to Alaska (R2AK). There are school and vocational training programs to manage as well.
Beattie also said there is a potential growth opportunity with a willing regional partner that isn’t quite ready to be announced.
“These are some really good things to focus on rather than to keep spinning our wheels.”
“There may be a time in the future that it may be in both of our best interests to review the matter again, however it is clear to us that now is not that time,” Beattie said.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].