Port of Port Angeles officials are trying to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the son of John Wayne before Wednesday, Feb. 27, to ease a deadlock over the future of the public marina that bears the late actor’s name.
Port Executive Director Karen Goschen said Monday port officials hope to meet with Ethan Wayne, president of Newport, Beach, Calif.-based John Wayne Enterprises, before a 9 a.m. Feb. 27 port commission meeting, when commissioners will discuss the future of the port-owned Sequim Bay facility.
“There are communications by letter and there are opportunities for a greater understanding when there is discussion in person, so we want to have a discussion in person,” Goschen said.
She would not comment on the legal issues that would be discussed.
“It’s just a matter of collaboration,” Goschen said.
“These are complex issues, and we’d rather collaborate in person.”
The commissioners’ meeting Feb. 27 will include a review of data the commissioners will be seeking in requests for information from interested parties for a “conceptual model” on how an entity other than the port would run the 300-slip marina, an outcome opposed by John Wayne Enterprises.
The request for information will be made available to interested parties.
Those parties include a city of Sequim-Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe ownership-management partnership, and for-profit marina operators interested in running the marina, which commissioners have said would remain public.
That information, due Dec. 1, will include the wherewithal to improve the 29-acre facility’s infrastructure and generate revenue in the event that the port stops operating the marina.
Responses to the requests for information would be presented to commissioners at a public meeting in January-February 2020.
A final proposal could be due Dec. 1, 2020, John Nutter, port director of properties, marinas and airports, said in a Dec. 11 staff report.
Port commissioners have said the tax district cannot cover the costs of improvements and have questioned the marina’s financial worth to the port.
The marina is built on land the Wayne family donated to the port for a marina in 1981.
Ethan Wayne outlined his stance on maintaining port ownership in a Jan. 3 letter to the port.
Easements were granted for the marina “specifying the Port would use the properties and easements for operating and owning the marina,” asserting any “transfer” of the marina would require John Wayne Enterprises’ consent, Wayne said.
He recommended that it is not “advisable” for the city to conduct an ongoing maximum $80,000 study with the tribe on marina operational costs and on upgrades that the port has estimated will cost $25.1 million between 2024-2035.
John Wayne Enterprises owns 105 acres next to the marina.
“We are prepared to express our opposition to the sale, our disappointment and justified anger publicly,” Wayne said.
Wayne Enterprises “would like to have an opportunity to discuss a concrete proposal that would safeguard the performance of the Port’s obligations to us before any one specific option is explored,” he said, adding that John Wayne Enterprises had agreed to meet with the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe later in January.
Tribal Chairman Ron Allen and his brother, tribal CEO Jerry Allen, met with Wayne “a few weeks ago,” Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said Monday.
The Allens did not return calls for comment Monday.
Bush said Monday the marina assessment is proceeding and that the city and tribe intend to respond to the request for information by the Dec. 1 deadline.
City officials have said residents favor the port transferring ownership of the marina to the city at no cost and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe running the facility, where the tribe grows oyster and clam seed.
“Nothing has changed on our end,” Bush said.
Wayne has not returned calls for comment on the marina’s future dating to October 2017, when Ron Cole, owner of Bend, Ore.-based Buffalo River Holdings, became the first developer to ask about purchasing the marina, setting in motion the port’s ongoing review of its future.
There was no answer at Wayne’s Newport Beach office Monday, and he did not return an email message for comment.