PORT TOWNSEND — The Northwest Maritime Center and others have pledged donations to help bridge a projected $250,000 funding gap between the budgeted amount for the Point Hudson south jetty replacement project and expected costs in light of the latest decision about the start date for the project.
Port of Port Townsend commissioners were considering two possible start dates — July 15 and Sept. 13 for replacement of the failing jetty as about 300 members of the public, mostly stakeholders in the marine trades and local business owners, packed the Port Townsend Yacht Club on Wednesday.
Commissioners decided in a 2-1 vote on the fall start date — the most expensive option — after hearing fears that work before then might interfere with the Wooden Boat Festival or with the summer tourist industry.
Termed Plan B, it is expected to cost the port $4.04 million.
Commissioners had three versions of the plan to consider.
• Plan A would begin construction on July 15 and be completed within 150 calendar days, with an estimated cost of $3.67 million.
• Plan A-Alternate would be identical to Plan A, but it would add wave attenuation during the Wooden Boat Festival. Estimated cost is $3.87 million.
• Plan B’s work would commence after the Wooden Boat Festival and would be completed within 120 calendar days taking it to February 2019.
Commissioner Steve Tucker cast the dissenting vote on the motion to set the start date in mid-September.
He said later he espoused considering A-Alternate or Plan B, but the motion to go with Plan B was made first. His choice would have been A-Alternate, he said Wednesday.
“It’s not fiducially responsible if it’s more than we can afford,” Tucker said at the meeting Tuesday.
He suggested moving the Wooden Boat Festival to Boat Haven this year to help deflect any impacts a summer start date would have. Commissioners Bill Putney and Peter Hanke did not agree with his suggestion.
Jake Beattie, Northwest Maritime Center executive director, made the offer of a donation during his presentation to the Port of Port Townsend commissioners.
Beattie said the festival “is in jeopardy because of the potential lack of wave protection” for boats during the Wooden Boat Festival. He said the festival could be canceled because of that lack.
He said that “given the late date of your process, the decision to cancel will need to happen when your bid packages are finalized next week. We simply can’t wait any longer.”
“In order for the festival to take place in 2018, you need to take the original Option A off the table,” Beattie said.
“Not starting construction until after Sept. 15 will allow the festival to move forward and provide the best overall economic conditions for the community as a whole. Option A with adequate and assured wave mitigation would be a far less desirable alternative than Option B.”
Beattie said the maritime center would “offer net proceeds from this year’s Wooden Boat Festival to help with any overage cost resulting from a September start date. In recent years, this has ranged from $80,000 to $100,000.”
He said the funds would come from projects earmarked for kids and schools.
Others also offered donations.
Tom Aydelotte, owner of Doc’s Marina Grill at Point Hudson, offered $20,000 the help with the anticipated funding shortfall.
“Summer is everything to our business,” said Aydelotte, suggesting he couldn’t make it if the high season were interrupted.
Hanke, who is president of Puget Sound Express as well as a commissioner, offered $50,000.
Chris Balken of SEA Marine offered between $4,000 and $5,000.
Chris Hanson, owner of the self-described “smallest tenant,” the Dive Shop, said,”You will kill us. We’ll throw in money to help.”
Two dozen members of the community spoke for three minutes each, making the case for the September start date, many citing the fiscal impact on businesses.
Kris Nelson, business owner and president of the Port Townsend Main Street Program board, urged commissioners to weigh all costs, not just construction costs.
Saying that small businesses do 70 percent of sales during the summer months. Nelson said she would also offer a donation to help defray additional costs.
Others suggested that the city of Port Townsend, the Jefferson County commissioners and others should be asked for financial assistance.
Unknown is the effect a recently adopted tariff placed on imported products which goes into effect on Friday.
The steel specified for the project by engineering firm Mott MacDonald is from China and tariffs could add an additional $250,000 to the engineer’s original estimate.
Wooden Boat Festival attracts thousands of tourists and provides an economic boost for business and the marine trades.
Carol Hasse, a founding member of the Wooden Boat Foundation and owner of Port Townsend Sails, questioned the engineering design of the new jetty.
“The new design is unlike the familiar rubble mound breakwater we have and almost all the Salish Sea marinas are protected by,” she said.
“The replacement is slated to be a six-foot wide vertical steel-combi wall made of cement and Chinese steel. The price might rise dramatically with new steel tariffs.
“Only one marina in our state has this type of breakwater. It’s the rusty, scaling, falling apart, very unattractive steel-combi wall that’s a portion of the Edmond’s Marina’s north break wall. It’s only 22 years old and our rubble mound has lasted for 80.”
Hasse noted that the Columbia River jetties use mound construction with granite boulders from the state. She said they have very rough duty and perform very well.
“I question the longevity of this relatively new steel combi-wall breakwater and I urge you to take a hard look at Mott MacDonald’s proposal.”
After the public session and vote, commissioners went into executive session to discuss the maritime center’s proposal to lease portions or all of Point Hudson and establish a minimum leasing price for the real estate described in the proposal. The port engaged the services of EcoNorthwest to analyze the proposal.
The port commission will consider the issue on April 11.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]