Port of Port Townsend focusing on five capital improvement projects

Stormwater improvement in permitting phase; construction may begin this year

PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend staff will be busy through the end of the year with five capital improvement projects that have been identified as priorities and are in various stages of development.

Capital Projects Director Matt Klontz gave commissioners an update at their June 12 workshop on the Boat Haven Marina breakwater, stormwater treatment and expansion projects, the downtown sea level rise project and the Gardiner boat launch project.

Repair of the Boat Haven’s main breakwater, portions of which were built in the 1930s, could potentially face a more rigorous and expensive environmental review process than the port had anticipated, Klontz said. A stringent assessment like the kind the port’s funding partner — the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration — is seeking could cost up to $1 million and take years to complete, he said.

The port’s $5.7 million Boat Haven stormwater improvement project, on the other hand, is in the permitting phase with the goal of awarding the construction contract by the end of the year.

Commissioners in April approved adjusting the 2024 operating and capital budget to fast track the stormwater project to take advantage of $3.1 million it received as part of the state’s 2024 supplemental capital budget.

There are two final stakeholder meetings on the details and design of the Sims Way expansion project that reimagines the gateway into Port Townsend and will allow expansion of the boatyard. The $2.2 million project has a $440,000 funding gap, but it is early enough in the development process to either scale back its scope or seek additional funding, Klontz said.

Permitting for the Gardner boat launch on Discovery Bay should be completed by the end of June or in early July, with construction taking place during the in-water work window November through January, Klontz said.

Commissioner Peter Hanke questioned why the Gardiner boat launch and not the boat launch at Herb Beck Marina in Quilcene was considered a priority.

“The need is much greater Quilcene,” Hanke said. “We’ve talked a lot about Quilcene, and I’m kind of surprised that Gardiner is getting accomplished quicker.”

Deputy Director Eric Toews explained the priority given to Gardiner was driven by the terms of the grant that funded the project and when it expires. Quilcene is still early in the planning process.

Klontz said upgrades to the Quilcene boat launch most likely will happen during 2026-2027 water work window.

Dave Nakagawara, the port’s civil engineer, said the port is reapplying for a grant from FEMA for its sea level rise project that will mitigate the impact of high tides and protect Boat Haven. The project will extend from the bluff at the west end of Boat Haven to the bluff near the intersection of Water Street and East Sims Way.

Nakagawara said the port and consultant KPFF are still fine-tuning the cost, which is estimated to be about $38 million to $58 million.

At the regular meeting following the workshop, Toews brought commissioners up to date on the status of Short’s Farm, the 253-acre property the port purchased last summer.

A nine-member steering committee, assisted by master’s students from the University of Washington, tasked with preparing a farm plan will present it to commissioners at their July 10 workshop.

“It’s a plan for a plan because there is so much that needs to be done before any decisions can be made,” Toews said.

Research, feasibility analyses and information gathering are still necessary before moving ahead on any potential projects, such as a mobile slaughter unit. The amount of land available to farm still needs to be determined as well.

The port nonetheless had to be ready to with an action plan when Roger and Sandy Short moved out of their home at the end of August, Toews said. Arranging short-term lease agreements with farmers so the land can continue to be worked is one of the recommendations the steering committee is considering, he said.

In another workshop item, Kees Kolff and Cindy Jayne from the Jefferson County/Port Townsend Climate Action Committee presented updates on its greenhouse gas and carbon sequestration goals. The CAC offered recommendations on how the port could prepare climate change and sea level rise.

The port, which is one of seven organizational members of the CAC, already has adopted a number of measures to lessen its impact on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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

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