Guest opinion: Port will listen to all stakeholders in considering John Wayne Marina’s future

  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns regarding the future of the John Wayne Marina in your recent correspondence (June 28, 2019).

All of us at the Port fully agree with the importance of keeping and increasing public use and access of the waterfront. In fact, “public access” was the first item the Port listed in the criteria to evaluate any conceptual proposals that the Port may receive through its Request For Information (RFI) process.

As published in the RFI, we specifically asked that any response address how the following objectives would be met:

i. Retain or expand public access to marina facilities, beach, picnic areas and parking

ii. Support a vibrant community yacht club

iii. Support community events

iv. Support tribal aquaculture

v. Collaborate with John Wayne Enterprises

vi. Collaborate with the City of Sequim

vii. Collaborate with Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

viii. Support the ecological well-being of Sequim Bay and surrounding habitats

As it studies possible options for the marina’s future, the Port will carefully consider how the public’s use and access of the waterfront will be preserved and promoted.

As you mentioned, the Port has committed to a fully transparent process. As part of that process, how proposals address all of the criteria listed above will be discussed in open public meetings. The Port will engage all segments of Clallam County (East, Central and West) and identifiable stakeholders (including users, the private sector, municipal corporations, tribal governments, and state agencies) as it explores possible ownership and/or management alternatives for the marina.

In addition, all communication, presentations, and studies are available on the Port’s JWM public information page: https://portofpa.com/385/John-Wayne-Marina-Public-Information.

The Port invites you to study the materials at the aforementioned link, and participate in future public meetings on this important community issue.

An economic, civic asset

Moreover, you mention the marina’s economic impact. The marina is part of the portfolio of public assets the Port manages to promote our county’s economic well-being, and each asset contributes in different ways.

A critical consideration, which you did not mention, is that the marina’s revenues do not cover its capital long-term upkeep. The day is coming when the marina will require major infrastructure replacement that the Port can’t afford.

The Port engineering staff has estimated the future costs at $26 million, and an independent study that the City of Sequim had completed estimated the cost at $30 million. The Board of Commissioners appreciates hearing from all constituents as it tries to balance how best to steward the public assets to address our communities’ greatest economic development needs.

Finally, your correspondence emphasized the importance of the yacht club to our community. “Supporting a vibrant community yacht club” is another consideration important to the Port, which is why the RFI identified such as an objective to be addressed in any conceptual proposal to be evaluated.

Unfortunately, some misinformation has been circulated suggesting decisions have already been made, that public access would be reduced or eliminated, and that the yacht club will be compromised. These rumors are false.

Once the monthly club meetings resume in September, I’m hoping to speak to the yacht club to assure them that their concerns are being listened to and considered.

I hope this helps clarify the Port’s position on these important topics. Because we are allowing 9 months for any potential responders to complete their due diligence, we are going through a time period where there simply isn’t any news to report or share.

Unfortunately, having no news can lead to assumptions that something must be happening “behind the scenes,” but that simply isn’t the case.

Like you, we’re all anxiously awaiting Dec. 10 to see if a concept is proposed that warrants further due diligence and community discussions. In the meantime, if you have any additional questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to provide answers.

John Nutter is director of property, marinas, & airports for the Port of Port Angeles. Reach him at JohnN@PortofPA.com.

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