Pam Petranek, left, is sworn in for her second term as a Port of Port Townsend commissioner on Jan. 10 by Executive Director Eron Berg. (Photo courtesy Port of Port Townsend)

Pam Petranek, left, is sworn in for her second term as a Port of Port Townsend commissioner on Jan. 10 by Executive Director Eron Berg. (Photo courtesy Port of Port Townsend)

Poplars targeted for spring removal

Sims gateway project timeline is outlined

PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend officials updated commissioners on the Sims Way gateway and boatyard expansion project that will include removing poplar trees, undergrounding power lines and constructing a pedestrian walkway that is anticipated to start this spring.

Executive Director Eron Berg said during the their workshop that the project would ideally be completed this year, but that target could conceivably be pushed back.

“We’re a little bit driven by our permit process,” Berg said on Jan. 10. “The goal is to have the trees removed in late spring. That would allow the PUD to underground the power lines in the summer and the yard project to occur in the late summer or early fall.”

Capital Projects Director Matt Klontz said a community stakeholder process, similar to the one in 2022 that led to the current project’s scope, will again be used to provide feedback and input.

Commissioners approved a contract of $150,000 with the landscape architecture firm Macleod Reckord to assist in its design and public engagement.

“The plan is to re-engage a smaller portion of that stakeholder group to talk about the landscaping in greater detail,” Klontz said.

“The port intends to use the landscape architect and part of the original stakeholder group to help facilitate those discussions and draw up some concepts and then make sure the appropriate plants are installed.”

Removal of the approximately 130 Lombardy poplar trees that line the north and south sides of Sims Way drew passionate and heated debate when it was announced in 2021.

The Port Townsend City Council in February 2022 approved the formation of a stakeholders committee to examine the plan.

Also at the workshop, engineer Dave Nakagawara said staff would be refining and resubmitting the port’s application for a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program grant, which it is doing through the Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department.

The BRIC program provides funding for hazard mitigation projects in areas susceptible to severe and repeated flooding and other natural disasters. Port facilities like the Boat Haven Marina and its infrastructure were significantly impacted by king tides in 2022.

Initiating projects to protect the waterfront from rising sea levels and storm damage has been a priority for commissioners and the port.

Nakagawara said staff would work with consultants to gather more data and fine-tune the application to meet the July 2024 deadline and hopefully receive a positive answer in January 2025.

The federal grant would cover 75 percent of the project’s funding, the state would contribute 12½ percent and the port and city would be responsible for 12½ percent.

Port officials said they reduce the original $66 million estimate.

“It’s a significant amount of dollars that we will have to assemble to make this project a reality,” Berg said. “Without doing something, we have serious concerns about the viability of the boat yard in the short term. There’s been some critique in the community about the method of the project and the type of treatment, but from the port’s perspective, there is no other realistically other viable alternative.”

Officers

During the commissioners’ meeting Jan. 10, Pam Petranek was sworn in for her second term as a Port of Port Townsend commissioner. Petranek was the first female commissioner in the port’s history when she was elected in November 2020, and she served as president in 2022 and 2023.

Commissioners unanimously selected as 2024 officers Pete Hanke, president; Carol Hasse, vice president; and Petranek, secretary.

Hasse, who served as vice president in 2022 and 2023, said she preferred to remain in that position rather than move to president.

“I know that’s the natural progression, but I feel I need another year,” Hasse said. “That would give me the option of watching another chair, and I could do a better job next year.”

Hanke, who has said he does not plan to run for reelection when his term ends in 2025, said he was happy to serve as president again. He had previously served in that position in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@peninsuladailynews.com.

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