Studying gaps in broadband service across Peninsula would be focus of grant

Clallam, Jefferson impacts in funds applied for by Port of Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — Gaps in broadband service throughout Clallam County — and possibly Jefferson County — would be studied in a $50,000 state grant being applied for by the Port of Port Angeles, which would add $16,667 to the effort.

Port commissioners unanimously approved submitting the broadband feasibility study application to the state Community Economic Revitalization Board. The report would be completed by June 2020.

The effort could be joined by Clallam County, the cities of Port Angeles, Forks and Sequim, and the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council, containing members from Clallam and Jefferson counties and known as the NODC.

The NODC, whose board president is Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, would organize meetings of a community broadband team that would develop the feasibility study and would assist with putting together reports on the project.

“I would envision that Team Jefferson would be a partner, [Economic Development Council] Clallam County would be a partner,” port Commissioner Steven Burke said at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We are certainly happy to do that to make it a stronger effort, application,” said port Commissioner Colleen McAleer, also Clallam EDC executive director.

Port Executive Director Karen Goschen said most of the grant funding would pay for someone with broadband experience to coordinate the study.

The port would be reimbursed up to 80 percent of the grant match depending on the number of Community Broadband Team members.

Marine trades project

Commissioners also approved sending four people to Alaska to visit a Seward marine trades project.

Commissioners decided a port commissioner, port Director of Engineering Chris Hartman, port Maritime Manager Mike Nimmo and Wendell Johnson of Everett, the port’s marine trades industrial park consultant, will make the July 23-27 visit to the Seward Marine Industrial Center (https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SewardMarine).

Burke or port Commissioner and board President Connie Beauvais will make the trip.

The port has budgeted $6,219 for the trip, not including promotional hosting expenditures incurred by the port commissioner who is taking the trip, who was listed in Nimmo’s report at Steven Burke, who said he may not be the one going.

The port is developing a marine trades industrial park at the former K-Ply plywood mill site on Marine Drive, recently installing a vessel wash-down facility while searching for an anchor tenant.

“It struck me and our staff that it’s very much of a similar endeavor that the city of Seward took on that we are taking on with our marine trades industrial park,” Nimmo told the commissioners.

Nimmo said the SMIC attracted tenants after dredging and breakwater improvements were completed.

The trip requires port commissioner approval because it involves commissioner travel outside of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Nimmo said.

Port commissioner hosting expenditures also require prior board of commissioners approval.

Hosting usually consists of taking people out for lunch or dinner, John Nutter, port director of properties, marinas and airports, said Thursday.

“For some of the people we need to meet with, that may be the only way we can get some of their time,” Nutter said.

1010 building

Nutter gave the commissioners an update on negotiations with Clallam County on relocating the county emergency operations center from the courthouse to 15,000 square feet within the port’s 40,000-square-foot 1010 building, formerly occupied by yacht-builder Westport LLC.

“We are in the middle of lease negotiations,” Nutter said, adding the lease could include a rate of 50 cents a square foot and a 50-year duration.

“Westport was paying 47 cents for the same area, so 50 cents is right in the ballpark,” Nutter told the commissioners.

The port has given county officials a “template long-term lease” to review, Nutter said, adding that the city of Port Angeles’ Peninsula Communications dispatch center may move into the 1010 building, too.

The City Council will discuss that potential at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, the first time the council has broached the topic.

EDC

McAleer recused herself from the discussion and decision by Burke and Beauvais to lease port property for an Economic Development Corporation office rent-free.

The EDC will occupy 1,100 square feet of KPly’s former office building at the former mill site at 439 Marine View Drive, at the Marine Trades Industrial Park.

Burke and Beauvais agreed to waive $1,235-a-month rent and $19,500 security, and the port will pay all utilities.

The EDC, which has received public funding since 2006, was given 30-day notice in June to vacate its offices at 905 W. Ninth St., in a building owned by the Port Angeles School District and the former site of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center.

“The port has a history of waiving rent and utilities for nonprofits that provide economic development services to the community,” Nutter said in his memo to the board.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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