Port of Port Angeles officials moved forward on March 12 with plans to seek information from potential owners and managers for John Wayne Marina, spurning a request by adjacent landowner John Wayne Enterprises Inc. to wait until June.
Port officials are also proceeding with plans to consider divesting the tax-supported port of the 300-slip Sequim Bay facility without the approval of John Wayne Enterprises, against the wishes of JWE President Ethan Wayne, the late actor’s son.
The port and JWE are increasingly at odds over the future of the public marina, treasured by Sequim-area residents who repeatedly say at port meetings that it is a valued community resource.
Wayne said in a Jan. 3 email to port Executive Director Karen Goschen that a transfer of the marina from the port “is not allowed without John Wayne Enterprises’ consent.”
“We do not believe consent is required,” Goschen said after a port meeting on March 12 at which port commissioners agreed to proceed with the request for information despite JWE’s request for a delay.
“We will work collaboratively with John Wayne Enterprises as we will with the city of Sequim,” she said, referring to the city’s interest in owning the facility in a management partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
The tribe has an oyster-seed-growing operation with three floating upweller systems (FLUPSYs) that occupy 40 percent of one of seven docks, and a tribal enforcement vessel and tribal fishing boats also dock at the facility, Harbormaster Ron Amundson said Tuesday.
Ethan Wayne did not return a call and email requests for comment.
The request for information (RFI) is asking for “conceptual models” of how potential buyers and managers would operate the marina and make repairs estimated to cost $26 million between 2023-2038.
The marina was built on land donated to the port in 1975 by the late actor John Wayne for a marina and transferred by Wayne’s family to the port in 1981.
JWE owns about 105 acres adjacent to the marina, which is in the city limits and can be developed under city land use and shoreline laws.
Wayne had suggested the port wait until June to issue the RFI, until a Seattle real estate advisory and investment firm hired by JWE had completed a study of redevelopment options for the port-owned marina and the Newport-based company’s acreage.
Heartland is reporting back to JWE in May.
The conceptual models, which may result in requests by port commissioners for concrete proposals, will be reviewed by commissioners at a Dec. 10 public meeting.
Sequim-area port Commission Colleen McAleer at first argued to delay the issuance of the RFI, saying it “would not harm our position of going forward, nor does it put any respondent in a negative position, but it certainly allows one of the stakeholders to be able to provide input for our review.”
Commission President Connie Beauvais didn’t agree.
“I’m not in favor of waiting until we hear something from them,” Beauvais said, adding that the Heartland study can be made public once it’s available and still add to the information the commissioners will have for making a decision.
Commissioner Steven Burke said there was no guarantee that the Heartland study would be made public.
Burke said it’s also important that the port not appear to show preference for one stakeholder over another.
McAleer said by the end of the discussion that she had not considered arguments offered by Goschen and Burke for moving forward with the RFI and went along with issuing the RFI.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladaily news.com.