On August 24, 2016, the Port of Port Townsend held a public meeting as well as a public workshop in Quilcene. The workshop session was devoted to the various Port properties and issues in the Quilcene community.
By law, Commissioners are not allowed to talk to each other outside of a meeting context. Workshops are a special type of meeting, wherein Commission members get to learn and talk about issues together. In the course of that August 24 workshop, some informal conversations by Commissioners and staff have apparently led certain members of the community to believe that the Port is racing towards a sale of the Quilcene Marina.
This is simply untrue.
WHAT IS THE PORT DOING?
The Port is a publicly owned and operated, special purpose district authorized by state law to plan, construct, operate, and maintain physical assets and improvements. The Port’s facilities and activities provide a substantial base of economic activity and employment within Jefferson County. Our mission is to serve the citizens of Jefferson County by responsibly maintaining and developing property and facilities to promote sustainable economic growth, to provide community access to Port facilities and services, and to protect and maintain our community resources and maritime heritage.
The Port is currently conducting a review of all operations and assets, County-wide, to ensure that we are indeed providing responsible management.
That’s it – no hidden agenda, no back-room discussions. We’re talking, in public, about difficult issues.
WHY IS THE PORT DOING THIS?
The Port is facing a very challenging financial environment. We have nearly $16 million in capital improvement projects that need to be completed. We need to make substantial investments to preserve our core functions that serve our mission and the community. So as a responsible public agency, we need to do everything in our power to improve business performance of our assets, and prepare to execute the critically-needed capital improvement plan. That means taking a hard look at facilities and assets that cost more than they bring in. The Quilcene Marina, is indeed, one of those facilities.
WHAT IS THE PORT WORKING TOWARDS IN QUILCENE?
The Port has had informal discussions with our tenant Coast Seafoods, the current leaseholder of adjacent Port land, about their plans and vision for the community. It is not a secret that the largest employer in South County would like to expand. And as their landlord, it is appropriate for us to talk with them about the future.
However, these discussions are just one of many that we are having around how to make Quilcene Marina perform better financially.
We understand that the Quilcene Marina and the property at the end of Linger Longer Road provide important public access to the water. We share those values. We are considering several different options about how best to manage the Quilcene properties and serve the Quilcene community.
As we work together to make that happen, we cannot conceive of a scenario where the public would not have access to one of the finest warm-water beaches in our area. It is also important to understand that any consideration of the sale of Port owned property must be done in public with ample public input.
HOW CAN THE PUBLIC PARTICIPATE?
All of the Port’s work is conducted in the open. We strongly encourage community members to attend and participate in our monthly meetings. We encourage the public to speak to their elected Commissioners. And I (Sam Gibboney) personally welcome community members to contact me directly with concerns and suggestions.
In addition to staying informed about marina issues, the community can also stay informed about our work with the Quilcene community to evaluate the feasibility of a wastewater system for the Quilcene Rural Village Center.
We have a range of challenging and difficult discussions ahead – in Quilcene, and throughout the rest of the County. We look forward to engaging these issues and working on behalf of the community to ensure that access, environmental stewardship, and economic development are all enhanced.