PORT ANGELES — Two general election candidates vying for a four-year Port of Port Angeles board of commissioners seat differed on John Wayne Marina’s future at their first voters’ forum Tuesday.
One-term incumbent Connie Beauvais of Joyce and challenger Maury Modine of Beaver clashed at the hour-long Port Angeles Business Association breakfast-meeting forum over retaining public access at the port-owned facility.
The marina lies within the Sequim city limits, east of downtown and on the shoreline of Sequim Bay.
The port tax district has issued a public request for information for “conceptual” models for addressing the marina’s infrastructure needs. Proposals are due by Dec. 10.
Beauvais and port Commissioners Colleen McAleer and Steven Burke have offered a framework under which the marina could be sold or managed by a nonprofit, leased to a management company or other entity, or transferred to a public entity such as the city of Sequim.
Officials with the city and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe are interested in forming a city ownership-tribal management arrangement, though neither had submitted a proposal.
The port’s John Wayne Marina page at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-WayneMarina contains emails, reports and the Request for Information (RFI) on the facility.
Beauvais, 68 as of Election Day, and Modine, 63 as of that date, were asked if they would sell the marina if the tribe responds to the RFI.
“To me, the Jamestown Tribe is a private entity,” said Modine, a retired industrial pipefitter.
The tribe, run by a government, operates an oyster and clam-seed aquaculture operation at the marina.
“Once a private entity buys that area, the John Wayne Marina will never actually be public and we won’t have any say in how it is developed,” Modine said.
“The only entity I would ever sell John Wayne Marina to would be the city of Sequim, because they would guarantee it would stay public.
Beauvais, manager of the Crescent Water District, disagreed with Modine’s outlook.
Respondents to the RFI must pledge “to keep the public access,” she said.
“Any proposal that would potentially limit or reduce public access would not be acceptable,” according to the RFI.
“Any proposals would need to explain how the respondent would maintain or enhance public access as well as maintain the services and amenities the marina is known for and address the anticipated capital projects.”
Applicants also must specifically address how they would retain or expand public access to the beach, picnic areas and parking.
Tribal Chairman Ron Allen has suggested a purchase price of $6 million-$7 million and an additional minimum of $13 million for upgrades including new floats.
In 2018, port officials estimated the marina needed $16.2 million in repairs, elevating that projection to $25.1 million by 2038.
At public meetings for more than a year, there has been no appetite for taxing property owners for marina improvements, including in West End-District 3, which will be represented by Beauvais or Modine.
“Some way, somehow, the money is always found,” Modine said.
“If it has to be in a bond, a grant, it always shows up.”
Beauvais mocked that view.
“Well then, I’m happy, yeah,” she responded.
“To my knowledge, there are exactly zero grants out there for recreational marina floats.”
Beauvais, who distributed an endorsement sheet to the 40 breakfast meeting participants, said she has maintained 2015 campaign pledges by ensuring the building the Composite Recycling Technology Center and the solving of the problem of trees obstructing flight lines to the port’s airport runway.
She said she will continue developing opportunities for “value-added wood products” such as thermally modified hemlock, a block of which she displayed during her presentation.
Modine said he would expand the Marina Advisory Committee and create a new advisory board “to bring alternative industries into the county.”
He vowed to “bring prosperity to the West End.”
“I know how to take down and put back a refinery, and other things, I can learn,” he said.
Beauvais touted how well she works with Burke and McAleer, saying there were fewer than five votes that were not unanimous during her term.
With former port Commissioner Jim McEntire in the audience, Beauvais said the present commissioners “brought the port to a new place” of public outreach from a place “where it looked like all the decisions were made in a back room.”
She said she was past the learning stage experienced by new commissioners.
Beauvais said she is “ready to go down the road to do more for our port.”
Port commissioners approve an annual operating budget that in 2019 is $11.1 million and pays for 46 full-time-equivalent positions.
Commissioners are paid $128 a day for up to 96 meetings totalling up to $12,288 a year and a $285 monthly salary — a maximum of $15,708 a year.
They also receive medical, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].