PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners have declined a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology, citing expense and a lack of a need for it now.
Commissioners took the action on Wednesday.
The Integrated Planning Grant (IPG) — which had been applied for by the previous administration — was intended to help the port address soils contamination and stormwater quality issues in the boatyard. It also would have helped in planning for the redevelopment of the uplands at Boat Haven to allow for “intensification of use” there.
Even though the IPG is a fully-funded grant, the port would have to incur some costs to use it, specifically staff and possibly consultant time. Commissioners agreed that they did not have the money in the budget.
“We have other irons in the fire and limited resources with which to address them,” Deputy Director Eric Toews said.
He referred to the $5 million runway reconstruction at the Jefferson County International Airport and the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the south jetty at Point Hudson — both projects scheduled for work this year.
The program that would be funded by the IPG ” is not well-suited to the port’s needs and circumstances at this time,” Toews said.
”We should tell Ecology that the money should be reallocated to other projects.”
The commissioners agreed unanimously that great strides have been made at Boat Haven and the grant would not be beneficial at this point.
“Our numbers this season for stormwater compliance are phenomenal,” Toews said.
“As of the most recent sampling we took in April, we are meeting seasonal benchmarks for zinc and copper.”
He added that stormwater improvements done in 2017 and modified with the introduction of chitosan this year, “are proving to be effective.”
“I believe Ecology is pleased with these results,” Toews said.
Since the stormwater issue has been substantially addressed, Toews said the remaining issue is one of a planning process that imagines “some level of redevelopment of the facility, and the level of stakeholder engagement that would be required to effect that and come up with said recommendations that the tenant base, the community and the commission can all support.”
Interim Director Jim Pivarnik and Toews spoke after the meeting, saying the IPG is better suited to sites where there are serious toxic issues that demand cleanup more suited to brownfield [contaminated] sites.
They believe the stormwater issue is being effectively addressed and will continue because of the marine trades self-policing attention.
The two said that the port has made big strides in the past year. Pivarnik said that the shipyard is bustling with vessels to be worked on tht range from Alaskan fishing fleets requiring heavy industry-type steel work to mega yachts to the wooden boats that are the historic foundation of Boat Haven.
“There’s so much activity in the boat yard,” Pivarnik said. “We wanted to make a transformative change, with leases and a long term vision for the organization.
“Our challenge going forward is to keep doing what we are doing with stormwater and keep up with system maintenance, ongoing re-gravelling of the yard, effective administration of best management practices and making sure that the trades and the tenants understand that we are all in this together,” he said.
As for expansion at Boat Haven, Pivarnik said he’s eyeing the southwest corner, now used for derelict vessels.
“We need to get rid of the trash, put in a stormwater system, and use it as an active boatyard,” he said.
“The funky boat yard still lives here,” Pivarnik said, “and we need to have the funky boat yard of the 21st century. The marine trades and the community want to keep this culture, the culture that this boat yard was founded on. It’s important that it doesn’t go away. We have a unique working waterfront character and heritage that isn’t Seattle or Olympia.”
Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]