SEQUIM — Sequim city leaders plan to take a more “direct” approach in their request for the city to take on ownership of the John Wayne Marina from the Port of Port Angeles.
Rather than partnering with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in potential management of the marina, Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush proposed the city draft a Request for Information, RFI, to the port that transfers the marina to the city.
“They [the tribe] would not compete with us but support it,” Bush said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
He said this is contrary to city discussions in June, when city officials considered developing a public engagement process.
However, Bush said, “a lot of things changed in our community over the summer,” leading to a July discussion with the tribe about the city’s full ownership proposal.
“The tribe was amenable to that perspective,” Bush said. “If we want to do partnerships with the tribe at the marina, that’s something we could talk about down the road.”
Bush said Tuesday that the goal is to submit a proposal by Dec. 10 that has solely city ownership and management of the marina, with the transfer occurring at no cost to the city in keeping with City Council policy.
City council members agreed with Bush’s approach and directed him without vote to pursue a draft proposal. Bush said they’ll discuss the proposal a few more times before December.
The city and tribe would make a “pledge to work together” on the marina’s future that could include tribal management of the facility, he said.
Bush said funding would need to be secured and predictable to keep the marina running as it currently does.
“That’s a problem everyone is facing, including the port,” Bush said. “In the long run, we are going to need to find more resources to keep it functioning at the same level as today.”
Options could include establishing a metropolitan park district or public development authority and could include higher taxes for Sequim residents, Bush said.
“There are all kinds of potential scenarios.”
John Nutter, the port’s director of properties, marinas and airports, said Tuesday he had not heard of any potential change in direction from the city on the marina or about the city going it alone with a proposal.
“I have not heard anything about that,” Nutter said. “I haven’t heard anything from anybody.”
Connie Beauvais, port board of commissioners president, said no decisions have been made regarding terms for who might take over the marina, including if the port would transfer the facility without monetary compensation.
“Concept” proposals for some form of transfer of ownership or management — or both — concerning John Wayne Marina will be reviewed by port commissioners at a Dec. 10 public meeting.
Beauvais said the port has until 2023 to make the port whole on improvements made to the marina.
“The important thing is to get back what we put in to it,” Beauvais said.
Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman, said Tuesday he was unaware of a new approach on the part of the city and had not talked lately with city officials about submitting a joint application to the port to run the marina.
“I suspect Charlie wants to get to first base on securing the marina,” Allen said. “It’s a matter of what their game plan is on the long-term liability, etc. If they take on the liability, that goes on their books.
“The city has not been definitive about what they want to do with the marina other than preserve it for public purposes. They have no vision on what to do with it. They have no resources.”
He said the tribe remains open to discussing management of the facility and submitting a joint proposal to the port.
In March, Peninsula Daily News reported that Port of Port Angeles officials began seeking information from potential owners and managers for the marina asking how they would operate the marina and make repairs estimated to cost $26 million between 2023-2038.
If the city were to take on ownership, Bush said, “we have 10-15 years to work through the infrastructure issues.”
“One of the eyes wide open things to consider is there’s the possibility we’re not going to be able to fund some of the things that need to be funded,” he said.
“We need to be OK with that before we go down that road. There could be some level of decommissioning or changes at the marina and the property there. Long term, regardless, we would have protected the waterfront.”
Bush said along with the tribe’s support, the John Wayne family supports the city’s approach and he’s not aware of any other parties interested in taking on ownership of the marina.
In a separate interview, Bush said city officials spoke to the Wayne family’s consulting firm, Heartland LLC, but not directly with Wayne family members.
Port officials and John Wayne Enterprises President Ethan Wayne have conflicted on whether or not the company has say in transferring the marina’s ownership with Wayne saying consent must be given and Karen Goschen, the port’s executive director, saying it’s not required.
Late actor John Wayne donated land that the marina was built on in 1975 and transferred by his family to the port in 1981. Heartland, a Seattle real estate advisory and investment firm, was hired by the Waynes to explore redevelopment options for the marina and the family’s 105 acres adjacent to the marina.
Prior to December, Bush said city staff will work with stakeholders like the tribe and Wayne family to draft RFI language for port officials. He said City Council will likely need to approve an RFI before moving forward.
Representatives for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Wayne Enterprises were not available for comment Tuesday.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].