Clallam County signs lease with port for homeless recovery center

Facility will be near William R. Fairchild Memorial Airport

Clallam County commissioners have signed an emergency lease with the Port of Port Angeles for a homeless population quarantine and isolation site near William R. Fairchild Memorial Airport.

Commissioners on March 31 approved a $16,000 monthly lease with the port to use 25,000 square feet of the unoccupied “1010 Building” at 2140 W. 18th St. and adjacent yard space for four months during the coronavirus outbreak.

The state Department of Commerce awarded $433,000 to the county to provide housing during the public health emergency.

The grant will be used to house homeless people who can’t maintain the 6-foot social distancing guideline to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and for people showing symptoms of COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization.

The two populations will be separated. Food and health care will be available, officials said. People can come and go.

“It’s not going to be a mandatory space,” said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

“The plan is to have a good, quiet place where you can recover.”

“It’s really less of a quarantine site than it is a recovery center for folks who are either homeless or need a place to rest.”

Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson, who spearheaded negotiations with the port, said the facility must be up and running by April 14 under terms set forth by Commerce.

“I just want to, again, thank everyone who’s involved with this,” Johnson said before the March 31 vote.

“It’s everyone stepping up and working together to do something with some rapidity, and I think it will be a good thing for the county.”

The Commerce grant is administered by the county in conjunction with Serenity House of Clallam County, which operates a shelter about a quarter-mile from the 1010 Building.

According to the lease agreement, the quarantine site will encompass 25,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space in the 1010 Building, 2,500 square feet of meeting space and restrooms in the adjacent 1050 Building and 100,000 square feet of outdoor parking and yard space south of the 1010 Building.

The facility will have a kitchen, laundry and 17 toilets, according to a project description. Clallam County will provide fencing and 24-hour security.

Johnson said the American Red Cross will supply 150 cots for the facility.

“It makes a lot of sense to go forward with the lease,” Johnson said in a March 30 work session.

“We were fortunate enough, and the port responded very quickly, to sit down the other day to try to hash out the lease terms on this agreement.”

“Long story short, we reached an agreement on all the basic terms on that,” Johnson added.

Clallam County Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Stanley said the port had agreed to remove a cross-liability provision from the lease as recommended by the county’s risk pool.

Johnson credited the county and port officials who negotiated the lease and Port Angeles Chief of Police Brian Smith, who helped “make sure that we get certain things right.”

“Again, I think it make a lot of sense,” Johnson said.

Commissioners Johnson and Mark Ozias approved the temporary lease with the port on March 31; commissioner Bill Peach was excused.

“This is a good step forward,” Ozias said.

The quarantine site will be used by Clallam County’s Department of Health and Human Services and/or Emergency Operations Center.

Meanwhile, county and city of Port Angeles officials are mulling a long-term lease with the port to use the 1010 Building as a joint emergency operations and 9-1-1 dispatch center.

The city and county have hired a consultant to conduct a site evaluation and preliminary design for the project.

The 1010 Building was built for a helicopter manufacturer in the 1980s and was formerly occupied by yacht builder Westport LLC.