02 Dec Commission Meeting Minutes 11-9-20
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF MEETING
(Via Zoom) November 9, 2020
Jim Orvis, President
Angela Harris, Vice President
David Preston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Orvis called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER FAIRES MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF OCTOBER 26, 2020 MEETING MINUTES
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $171,577.22
D. AUTHORIZATION TO APPROVE EDMONDS YACHT CLUB TO CONDUCT HOLIDAY ON THE DOCKS IN GUEST MOORAGE, NOVEMBER 28, 2020 THROUGH JANUARY 2, 2021
E. APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-08, DECLARING PORT PROPERTY SURPLUS AND AUTHORIZING ITS SALE OR DISPOSAL
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Dave Cheeney, Edmonds Yacht Club, offered thanks and gratitude for the Port’s cooperation in working with the yacht club to bring the Holiday on the Docks event to fruition. They are looking forward to the event this year.
Commissioner Preston reported that he spoke to former commodore Olsen who said he didn’t want to move his boat to Guest Moorage to be part of the event, and he talked to him about lighting his boat in its current location. He suggested that the yacht club encourage other members to do likewise.
Edmonds City Council Member Susan Paine reported that the City Council has been busy reviewing budget documents, and most of them are available on line. She encouraged citizens to listen in on the meetings and pay particular attention to budget items related to the Edmonds Marsh, which is adjacent to the Port of Edmonds. The City Council hopes to complete budget work by early December.
MARINA BEACH PARK RENOVATION PROJECT PRESENTATION BY ANGIE FESER, EDMONDS PARKS, RECREATION AND CULTURAL SERVICES DIRECTOR
Mr. McChesney introduced Angie Feser, the City of Edmonds’ new Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director, and shared information about her educational and professional background.
Ms. Feser said the purpose of her presentation was to share the City’s plans for the Marina Beach Park Renovation and related Willow Creek Daylighting Projects. She reviewed that Marina Beach Park is a 4.9-acre park on Puget Sound at the access terminus of the Edmonds beachfront and just south of downtown Edmonds and the ferry terminal. It is adjacent to the Port of Edmonds Marina and bordered by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad.
Ms. Feser explained that the proposed park renovation is part of a greater Edmonds Marsh Restoration Project. The marsh is an estuary with degraded water quality because its access to Puget Sound is currently limited to a pipe for Willow Creek underneath the park. The project will replace the pipe with an open-air tidal channel. Outside of the project and at the edge of the park, the channel will flow under the railroad and through private property to connect to the marsh. The Edmonds Marsh used to connect to Puget Sound through Willow Creek, just north of the park, but when the marina was developed in the 1960s, the water exchange and related fish passage was closed off due to the pipe and the tide gate. This changed the marsh from a healthy salt/freshwater marsh to mainly freshwater only, and it became overgrown with invasive species and degraded water quality. The underground pipe also has a tide gate, which remains closed for about half of the year, and this impacts the marsh, as well.
Ms. Feser said the proposed project will redevelop the park with new play areas, scenic overlooks and permanent restrooms. It will also provide better hand-carried boat water access and reconfigure the pathways and parking for better site circulation. She noted that Marina Beach Park is only one of two off-leash dog parks in northern Puget Sound with water access. The other one is Howarth Park 25 miles north in Everett. The current amenities include two parking lots that are disjointed, a newer playground, a sand volleyball court, the off-leash dog area, a beautiful lawn area, and the beach. It also provides expansive views.
Ms. Feser advised that the basis for the new design is the 2015 Master Plan, which was derived from an inclusive community process lasting almost a year. There were three open houses with more than 170 attendees, as well as online surveys and an advisory committee. The most common requests were for parking lot consolidation, roundabout boat drop off, multiple outlooks, permanent restrooms, and maintaining the separation between the dog park and the rest of the park. The separation will be accomplished by using the daylighting of Willow Creek.
Ms. Feser pointed out that Edmonds has other waterfront parks, which are all connected to the marina boardwalk. However, only one provides hand-carried boat access to the water and none actually have salmon bearing creeks connecting to Puget Sound. Marina Beach is the only opportunity for active water recreation access and environmental education about a unique fresh and saltwater estuary adjacent to a highly urban environment that is within walking distance of an active downtown.
Ms. Feser said when she started at the City of Edmonds, she inherited two grant applications that had just been started, and she only had a few weeks to complete them. Both applications are for Washington Recreation and Conservation Office programs, and both are for $500,000. The City’s application for the Local Parks Grant Program ranked 19th out of 80 projects, but she wouldn’t rule the project out for possible funding. The projects are ranked, and when money is appropriated by the legislature next spring, she anticipates that some projects will drop from the list as a result of the pandemic. The City’s application for the Aquatics Land Enhancement Account ranked 1st and will be guaranteed funding of $500,000. She said the overall project is estimated at about $5 million and will require other
grant funding sources, as well as City dollars that come from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET), park impact fees, and the general fund. Project design is currently at about 30% and will continue for the next few years, with possible construction as early as 2023 or 2024, depending on funding.
Ms. Feser shared the following images that were provided by Joe Scordino from Save Our Marsh, showing the progression of the development of the Edmonds Waterfront:
• 1941 – The Union Oil California (UNOCAL) property operated as the Edmonds fuel station from about 1923 to 1991. The image shows the location of the tank farm, the pond, and the pier. At this time, the marsh was open without a lot of development.
• 1955 – Willow and Shellebarger Creeks are still on the surface, but some development has occurred along the beach.
• 1967 – The new Port of Edmonds Marina was built in 1962, and Willow Creek was piped at that time.
• 1970 – The Harbor Square land was being filled and leveled, but the creeks still worked their way through the marsh area.
• 1976 – State Route l 04 was developed, which defined the area a little more.
• 1985 – The harbor end development is shown in this image, as well as some site improvements at what is now Marina Beach Park (lawn, parking, etc.)
Ms. Feser recalled that the Marina Beach Park property was purchased by the City in 2001 for $3.1 million. Since becoming a public park and amenity, it has been quite popular for nature viewing, exploring a large and interesting beach, and taking in the incredible views. It also provides opportunities for parasailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and off-leash dog activities. The park contains a significant amount of uplands lawn area, which makes it suitable for both active and passive recreation. The tanks were removed between 2000 and 2002, and the pier was removed between 2007 and 2009.
Ms. Feser explained that the Marina Beach Park Renovation Project is part of a larger effort to daylight Willow Creek, which has been significantly modified where it passes through both private and public lands, including the Marina Beach Park site before it was a park. As a result, the Edmonds Marsh, which is a 28-acre barrier estuary, is highly restricted from Puget Sound. Chevron Services (UNOCAL) currently owns the property, with a contract with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for acquisition once the site cleanup is completed. The proposed project will reestablish barrier-free fish access to the marsh for the first time in 60 years,
Ms. Feser advised that the broader marsh restoration project is very popular and people are eager to see progress. The City spent about 9 years conducting community outreach for the project, and this has resulted in broad support throughout the Edmonds community. She also advised that Marina Beach Park is a well-loved regional treasure. It is popular for its dog park, the large natural beach, and the expansive views. It has been renovated and constructed incrementally since being acquired in 2001. The proposed project will redevelop the park with play areas, scenic overlooks, restrooms and water access for hand-carried boats. It will also reconfigure the pathways and parking. She shared slides to highlight some of the planned renovations:
• Parking. The lack of a comprehensive approach is most obvious with the two parking lots that are difficult to maneuver when full. It is especially difficult for American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) access and water sports. The two parking lots were built in the 1980s around the fuel station and pier. As proposed, parking would be moved out of the heart of the park by combining the two lots into one. The north parking lot will be expanded to have 58 regular and 4 ADA spaces, which is the same number of current paved parking on site, but it will eliminate the 16 gravel overflow informal spaces adjacent to the dog park.
• Roundabout. The roundabouts will lessen congestion with a dedicated place for turnarounds, drop offs, school busses and hand-carried boats.
• Restrooms. The two entry plazas at each end of the parking area will address the public’s wishes to have permanent restrooms.
• Walking Paths. The park’s ADA walking paths will connect with the Port’s boardwalk to the north and the ADA sidewalk to the south.
• Playground. The existing playground will be replaced with a natural play area that enriches rather than detracts from the park’s natural scenery. The playground will provide for more natural play that increases capacity and accessibility. It will go beyond ADA requirements to be truly inclusive and encourage play for all ages and abilities.
• Overlooks. There will be three new and one renovated overlooks. Each will offer varying, stunning views of the Puget Sound to the north, west and south and provide ample seating so everyone can enjoy the beach regardless of their ability to get down to the sand.
• Open Lawn Area. The open lawn area will be regraded to reduce the steep slopes for watercraft staging and better seating and gathering options.
• Bridges. There will be two bridges over Willow Creek that will connect the south and north sides of the park to provide service and security access and improve the circulation to the dog park.
• Dog Park. The dog park will be upgraded with some new dog agility course components.
• Educational Signage. People will be able to see the creek from the two ADA-accessible bridges, pathways and beach and educational signage will be provided.
• Willow Creek. Historically, Willow Creek flowed through the marsh and park, but was piped underground in 1962 with development of the marina. The existing 1,000-foot-long pipe and tide gate act as a fish barrier. Willow Creek will be rerouted, eventually flowing through the park and out to Puget Sound. Daylighting will occur by connecting the marsh through the existing railroad bridge, creating 362 new feet of creek channel through the park. Day lighting is a critical component for tying the estuary to the Sound so that salt water can come back through the tidal channel into the marsh. The daylighting project is also designed to support salmon passage and habitat through the park and into the marsh area.
Ms. Feser advised that the 2013 early and 20 l 5 final feasibility studies for the marsh restoration project looked at three potential locations for daylighting Willow Creek, and the preferred alignment was in Marina Beach Park. Three different locations inside the park were studied for the relocation of Willow Creek. The 2015 Master Plan for the park evaluated each of the three locations to come up with the preferred alignment shown in the current park design. This alignment best replicates the historic path of the creek and is supported by the master plan for the park, as well as the feasibility studies. There is no other place along the immediate stretch of the built-up shoreline to route the creek. Daylighting the creek means the park will become functionally contiguous with the Edmonds Marsh, improving ecological functions for both.
Ms. Feser summarized that the park design incorporates the studies, fish habitat assessment, hydraulic modeling, sea level rise studies and conceptual design of the broader restoration project. She explained that, to accommodate climate change and sea level rise, all proposed park development will be set an additional 1.5 feet back from the l00-year storm line along the waterfront and 50 feet back from the creek. The preferred tidal channel will align with the existing open area under the railroad, which will save considerable cost and time. Native plants, including beach grasses, will be used on streambanks and meadow areas. Higher on the streambanks will be a mixture of native upland trees and shrubs that transition down to salt-tolerant shrubs, hedges and grasses near the tide level.
Commissioner Orvis said his understanding was the bridge under the railroad tracks was put in specifically for daylighting Willow Creek and was funded by Sound Transit. Ms. Feser said that is her understanding, as well.
Commissioner Johnston asked if the educational component of the project will involve primarily interpretive signage or if live educational opportunities will also be provided. Ms. Feser answered that it will include both. The educational signage on the bridge will allow people to learn while actually looking down into the creek. In addition, the City’s Beach Ranger Program will provide live, hands-on educational opportunities.
Commissioner Faires asked if the dog park will be relocated further south. Ms. Feser answered that the dog park will remain in its current location, but it will decrease in size to accommodate the alignment of Willow Creek. The group associated with the dog park was involved with the park design and offered support. They believe it is important to bring Willow Creek through the park and open it up.
Commissioner Faires pointed out that, in the south marina, the bridge over A Dock terminates at the north end of Marina Beach Park. He asked if the park design is far enough along to allow the Port to figure out what needs to be done with this bridge. Ms. Feser said the design lines up perfectly with the bridge, and all of the paths in the park design will be ADA accessible. No changes will be required by the Port.
Commissioner Johnston asked if the $5 million estimated cost is for construction only or if it include the costs associated with design, permitting, etc. Ms. Feser answered that it includes architecture and engineering, permitting and construction. They are currently at 30% design, and the cost estimates were recently tightened up.
Commissioner Orvis said he has seen estimates for daylighting Willow Creek that are quite a bit higher. However, that probably includes work in the marsh, which will be done later on. He asked if the $5 million estimate includes dredging the channel down to the bridge or just the in-park work. Ms. Feser answered that the estimate only includes work up to the railroad bridge.
Commissioner Faires asked about the approximate schedule for the park improvement. Ms. Feser responded that the goal is to start construction in 2023 or 2024, if funding can be secured. However, there will be some timing issues related to the marsh restoration. It would be great to do the two projects concurrently, but it would also be okay for the park project to be a little ahead of the marsh project.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-06, ESTABLI S H ING THE AMOUNT OF TAX TO BE LEVIED
Ms. Drennan reviewed that the Commission considered the tax levy on August 3 p t, October 12th and October 26th• She explained that the Port may levy a property tax of $593,775.24, plus the estimated amount of new construction, less the estimated refunds. The 2020 Tax Levy was set at $400,000, and the proposed tax levy for 2021 is also
$400,000. This equates to a mil rate of$0.058. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution No. 20-06 as presented.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION 20-06, ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF TAX TO BE LEVIED IN 2021 IN THE AMOUNT OF $400,000. COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-07, BANKING EXCESS LEVY CAPACITY FOR 2021
Ms. Drennan explained that the resolution will allow the Port to bank the difference between what it actually levies and the amount it could possibly levy. This will enable the Port to increase the tax levy to the higher amount if deemed necessary in the future. As per Washington State law, the Port can bank the additional amount it could levy in an amount equal to the rate of inflation or l%, whichever is lesser, unless the Commission determine s that there is a substantial need. In 2021, the rate of inflation is about 0.6%. In order to protect the Port’s ability to issue and pay Limited General Obligation Bonds, the Port has established that there is a need to bank 1% of the highest lawful levy. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution No. 20-07 as presented.
COMMISSIONER HARRIS MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 20-07, BANKING EXCESS LEVY CAPACITY FOR 2021. COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-09, ADOPTING THE 2021 BUDGET
Ms. Drennan reviewed that the Commission previously discussed the 2021 Preliminary Budget on August 3151, October 12th and October 26th. A public hearing was held on October 26th, and there have been no changes since that time. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution No. 20-09 as presented.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 20-09, ADOPTING THE 2021 BUDGET. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
CONTINUATION OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-03 DECLARING LOCAL EMERGENCY AND DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Mr. McChesney reported that there has been no action taken by the Executive Director under the special emergency delegation of authority to date. He noted that the Governor ‘ s emergency declaration concerning the Open Public Meeting and Open Public Record Acts was extended to December 7th.
Commissioner Faires said he assumes that Resolution No. 20-03 is still appropriate, but the Commission should start thinking about its possible termination in February or March. Mr. McChesney said termination would be at the discretion of the Commission, and would likely depend on the status of the pandemic.
MARINA FLOAT REPAIRS
Mr. McChesney recalled that the Commission recently approved expanding the Executive Director’s spending authority to $50,000. At that time, he made a commitment to inform the Commission of any spending that he authorized.
Mr. McChesney reported that a routine marina inspection revealed significant floatation defects in several areas, and repairs are needed. He provided photographs to illustrate the situation: 2 on D Dock, 3 on M Dock, 3 on N Dock, and 1 on P Dock. He explained that the piers start to lose buoyancy and shift and twist. If they aren’t repaired, the situation gets worse and the problem amplifies through the marina. The Port’s strategy is to address these situations right away. The estimated cost is $27,000, and he has authorized a contract for the project to move forward. The final cost might be less depending on the repairability conditions once the contractor has been able to address the issues. If the project exceeds $27,000, he will report back to the Commission.
Commissioner Preston asked if the situation has created a buoyancy failure. Mr. McChesney answered that it could be a combination of buoyancy failure and through rods being racked. The first step will be to address the buoyancy issue. Commissioner Orvis recalled that this problem has come up before, and making timely repairs will extend the life of the marina.
Commissioner Faires asked if it would be reasonable to expect many of the other finger piers to have the same problem. Mr. McChesney answered that he expects they will need to repair five or six every year. If the problems are addressed right away, they can prevent the floats from going into outright failure mode.
Commissioner Preston asked if there is any way to prevent the problems from occurring. Given the amount of wave action the floats have to absorb, Mr. McChesney said he doesn’t think there a way to design a float so it won’t exhibit signs of wear and tear as it ages. The Port’s strategy is to address the problems quickly before the situation gets out of hand.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reported that, over the past weekend, there was an Information Technology (IT) crisis that impacted Marina Operation’s ability to conduct transactions. It appears there is a problem in the cable that runs from the server in the Administration Office down to Marina Operations. The cable is at least 20 years old, and it may not have the capacity to handle the software and data. Staff is in the process of identifying a hardware consultant to evaluate the situation and recommend a solution. He noted this is the second time the problem has come up in the past month. The Port relies on software to conduct business, so a quick resolution is important.
Mr. McChesney also reported that the north parking lot lights went out over the weekend. Maintenance staff located a short circuit in the buried cable and was able to pull some new wire to correct the problem. He commented that these two situations illustrate that the marina infrastructure is aging, and he expects that issues will come up from time to time. As they get into the north promenade and seawall repairs, they will have an opportunity to upgrade the infrastructure in that particular area.
Mr. McChesney advised that Port is in the process of putting together a consultant team to move forward with design and permitting for the promenade and seawall projects, and the first meeting is scheduled for November 12 th• He specifically invited Commissioners Johnston and Harris to participate. He reviewed that CG Engineering will be the lead consultant, and Landau Associates will assist with permitting and Makers will assist with design.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Preston reported that he plans to attend the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPA) annual meeting, which will be virtual. He also reported that he recently attended a virtual Edmonds City Council meeting.
Again, Commissioner Preston encouraged the Edmonds Yacht Club to encourage its members to light up their boats for the Holiday on the Docks event regardless of where they are located in the marina.
Commissioner Johnston reported that the Public Access Committee met on October 29th to start framing the path forward. They need to get a consultant team on board as soon as possible. He said he would be pleased to participate in the consultant team meeting on November 12th, as requested by Mr. McChesney.
Commissioner Johnston announced that he would participate in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASC) Coffee with the U.S. Naval Station Captain on November 10th• He will also participate in the upcoming WPPA roundtable, which will be a briefing on Tax Incremental Financing (TIF).
Commissioner Harris reported that she would attend the WPPA’s annual meeting and would like to attend the consultant team meeting on November 12th if her schedule can be rearranged.
Commissioner Orvis reported that he attended the EASC’s Board Retreat, where he was nominated to serve for one more year. He suggested the Commissioners have a discussion about who will replace him next year as the Port’s representative on the Board. The nomination process starts as early as May. He suggested that Commissioner Harris would be a good candidate.
Commissioner Orvis suggested that, as the employment numbers improve, it is important to keep in mind that it is not necessarily synonymous with productivity. Things are still recovering, particularly in the aerospace arena. They also need to stay abreast of Sound Transit’s money problems. Sound Transit has committed to at least finishing the Lynnwood link, but they are starting to back down from paying for the Paine Field and Everett links.
Commissioner Orvis reported that he attended the EASC’s Diversity Equity Inclusion Briefing, and was terribly disappointed. It seemed to be just a chain of the same words put together, with no solutions or plans of action. Commissioner Harris said she attended, as well.
Commissioner Orvis reported that the WPPA’s Legislative Committee met recently. A big concern for ports is the Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) funding to complete projects that ports are already liable for. The legislature appropriates the money yearly, but the contracts are often multi-year. There is always a potential for a port to get stuck with a bill for cleanup because the legislature fails to appropriate funding. He noted that revised figures, show the State’s deficit will be about $4.6 billion, which is less than was anticipated, and a virtual legislative session will save a substantial amount of money. At this time, the capital building is closed and locked to prevent vandalism and theft. During the virtual session, the number of bills will be limited, and most of them will be related to funding issues. A carbon tax is likely, as transportation funding is needed. The WPPA’s position is that, if there is a carbon tax, the funding should go towards transportation projects. Other WPPA priorities include Tax Increment Financing (TIF), broadband expansion, preserving Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) funds, and transportation funding.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:11 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, David Preston Port Commission Secretary