Port of Grays Harbor

Special Commission Meeting

April 26, 2017

The Port of Grays Harbor Special Commission Meeting on April 26, 2017 was called to order at 4:03 p.m.

Gary Nelson, Executive Director, led the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Those in attendance at the meeting were as follows:

COMMISSION AND STAFF
Chuck Caldwell - Commissioner
Jack Thompson - Commissioner
Gary Nelson - Executive Director
Leonard Barnes - Deputy Executive Director
Randy Lewis - Director of Environmental & Engineering Services
Mike Johnson - Contract & Project Manager
Alissa Shay - Manager of Business Development
Molly Bold - Westport Business Manager
Seth Taylor - Marine Terminals Manager
Marisa Yauch - Executive Administrative Assistant
Kayla Dunlap - Public Affairs Manager

VISITORS
Arnie Martin - GHAS

Items discussed and action taken where required is as follows:

REPORTS:
SR 520 Pontoon Feasibility Study Presented by the City of Aberdeen
Gary Nelson introduced Erik Larson, the Mayor of Aberdeen. Erik presented on the report prepared by Nichols Marine Services, LLC which reported on the highest and best use of the WSDOT SR 520 Casting Basin Site. In the original permitting for the site it was clearly written that the options for sale at project completion included either selling for a very similar use of the property or they would be required to bring the property back to its original condition. The City of Aberdeen believes it will cost more than $12 million in modifications for any marine enterprise to be able to use the property. Mayor Larson believes the highest and best use for this property will be for the Port to acquire the land. He feels the appraisal value of $9.75 million is high and the state will have a difficult time finding a qualified buyer that will be able to pay this amount, in addition to over $10 million in restoration to the land for operation of another business.

Mayor Larson hopes the City and Port can work with the state to try to gain the property at little or no cost and perhaps gain funds to restore the property to its original condition. Though the City has no interest in the property it could be an opportunity for additional jobs at the Port since it is connected to Port property.

Commissioner Thompson asked if they have received any feedback from WSDOT. No, the state feels that the appraisal is valid and they would like to sell the property for the $9.75 million dollar appraisal and close this project completely. The only way the state would be able to do this is if a business offered the full amount of the appraisal, there can be no negotiation; it must be a full price offer. Mayor Larson feels that if they do not receive a viable offer for the property while it is on the market then a conversation could start with the City and Port working together to begin a plan. He believes any buyer would have to show that their purchase will create jobs and be positive for this community. The City and Port can work with politicians that want to see Aberdeen continue to grow and use this property for community benefit.

Today, the Mayor would like to gauge interest in the property and determine if the Port is willing to see if it could work; if it is something of interest, the City and Port can begin meeting to determine the strategy.

Commissioner Thompson inquired on next steps. The first steps would be to organize permitting info and provide and option for the state to sell this property while leaving the city in a good position. Determining which staff and/or Commissioners will be directly involved with the process moving forward would be another important decision to get the process started.

Leonard Barnes stated that the Port would like to be involved in the process as it moves forward. If it is sold to another company the Port needs to be sure that it will not interfere with current operations.

Arnie Martin, Hoquiam citizen asked if it will be absolutely necessary to remove the concrete box as it will be a major project to decommission. Mr. Barnes stated that short term it may not be necessary, but over time it may run into issues if it stays in place. Mr. Martin also suggested the possibility of using this structure for underground parking. Mr. Barnes stated this had been an idea discussed with Pasha and could be a possibility for use if acquired by the Port. This is one option, there could also be a number of new tenants that may be interested in using the property; the Port is open to all interested parties.

Mr. Larson concluded with the point that the City and Port should both be concerned that this property goes to an owner that will be able to handle the costs and turn it into a productive property providing jobs.

Commissioner Caldwell stated that the Port should be involved with the discussions for this property. He thanked Mayor Larson for all of the good information and reasons to be sure the Port stays involved.

Commissioner Thompson commended Mayor Larson on all the work he had completed to get this far. He also feels it is in our best interest to work with the City on a solution which will benefit the community.

Mr. Nelson stated the importance of being involved in order to know that whether the Port gains the property or another business, it will not be detrimental to current operations. It is very important to have full support of the City Council; if they have opposing views it could be an issue for the Port as we move forward.

Arnie Martin wondered if the Port had the funds available to obtain the property. Mr. Nelson stated that our financial picture at this moment does not have availability for this large purchase, but a lot can change as the process moves forward. If we were able to find an interested tenant there could be an option for a revenue bond. There are other funds that may be attainable for purchase of the property if it showed promise for revenue and job generation in the community.

Mayor Larson touched briefly on the latest discussions on the Gateway Center. The Mayor has been steering the idea of a visitor’s center to more of an enterprise center where visitors can get questions answered, but there would also be key organizations that work together in the same building for increased communication and efficiency. It could also be an opportunity to leverage with other organizations for services we may be able to add to the area.

The Special Meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.