PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners will continue deliberating the purchase of a new boat hoist that would replace the port’s 27-year-old, 300-ton Travelift that officials said is nearing the end of its useful life.
Commissioners Pam Petranek and Pete Hanke moved from Wednesday’s consent agenda to regular business a resolution authorizing the port to apply for $2,345,833 in federal funds through the U.S. Economic Development’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Disaster Recovery Program to pay for 80 percent of the $2,932,292 cost of a 300CII Marine Travelift with a variable width option.
Commissioner Carol Hasse had an excused absence.
The EDA funding would cover 80 percent of the cost and the port would pay the remaining 20 percent, or $586,458, in matching funds.
The discussion will continue at the port’s June 14 meeting.
The variable lift option, which became available on Marine Travelift boat hoists this year, would allow the port to maximize service and storage space at the boatyard by being able to block vessels closer together.
“This is a tool that offers flexibility in the yard and the ability to move more boats into the yard,” port Executive Director Eron Berg said.
Deputy Director Eric Toews said the new lift would address vulnerabilities posed by the port’s existing 300-ton Travelift, which requires more frequent and extended down time for repairs that negatively impacts marine businesses and the yard’s operation.
It would also benefit the marine trade industry, he said.
“We’re retaining jobs and creating new job opportunities,” Toews said.
During public comment, Port Townsend Foundry owner Pete Langley said he had questions about the safety of a variable width lift and that there is a need for more community input on the issue.
“Close stacking up of yachts or working vessels become a domino effect in the time of a fire, and I would be concerned putting boats that are working and operating that close together without a viable plan,” Langley said. “I would look for a little bit more time for comment or discussion.”
Toews said, “I wouldn’t characterize it as tight stacking vessels. It’s more an efficient use of limited space.”
Hanke said the Travelift would be a “serious leg up for the the port.”
“I don’t really see a down side,” Hanke said. “We do need a new lift, and we if lost the lift we have, that’s going to be a really dramatic event.”
Petranek said that even though the lift has “all the bells and whistles,” she wants more information before she makes any decision.
“I’m not ready to push the button on a Travelift that hasn’t been on the market yet,” she said.
Commissioners also approved up to $250,000 in Industrial Development District funds for a feasibility study for the Water Walk and Sea Level Rise project that will protect the boatyard from flooding. The port had originally estimated the cost of the initial phase would be $150,000. However, it revised that estimate to between $300,000 and $400,000 based on what it believes will be a significant level of public engagement needed.
In other news, Dave Nakagawara will join the port on June 1 as an engineer and reunite him with capital facilities Director Matt Klontz, with whom he worked when Klontz was Sequim’s public works director.
Nakagawara, who will leave his position as a building official with the City of Port Townsend, will assist Klontz in delivering projects, including Boat Haven and Point Hudson breakwater replacements, expansion of the boatyard and improvements to the Jefferson County International Airport.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.