11 Jan Commission Meeting Minutes 12/13/21
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom) December 13, 2021
Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Marketing
Vivian Olson, Edmonds City Council
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
Vice President Preston 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 ORVIS MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF NOVEMBER 29, 2021 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $241,673.15
D. APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 21-08, APPROVING THE REDISTRICTING PLAN FOR PORT COMMISSIONER DISTRICTS
E. PORT OF EDMONDS AGREEMENT FOR LEGAL SERVICES
COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Fred Gouge, former Port Commissioner, commented that he met Commissioner Faires 22 years ago, when he became a commissioner. He has brought a lot of balance to the community, along with fairness in each of his decisions. He has always been a level-headed Commissioner who has had a good dialogue with the public. He summarized that all of the Commissioners care about the Port of Edmonds, the Town of Woodway and the City of Edmonds. He thanked Commissioner Faires and his family for his 22 years of service to the community.
Mr. McChesney read the following email submittal from Guy Schoonmaker, a tenant in the marina:
“I have been a port tenant for 35 years and has reached a pivotal point as a boat owner. The cost of moorage, fuel, and maintenance will most likely force myself and many other tenants out. My 40-foot slip was increased by over 6% this year to $976. The attitude over the years has been all about the Port’s fiscal picture. Every year having to maintain a reserve to “rebuild and maintain the marina” has become detrimental. If the average boater cannot afford to moor and maintain now, what difference is there to have the current plan to rebuild the marina in 20 years. It’s great for future generations, but now so good for tenants who have supported the Port of Edmonds for many years. I could go on and on about petty ancillary charges, parking issues, profit-center phobia, etc. There has to be some room for moderation to keep fees and services reasonable.”
There were no other public comments.
PORT OF EDMONDS 3D MODEL OF PORTWALK – MAKERS ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN
Ms. Williams introduced Stefani Wildhaber, Dylan Yamashita and Paolo Pelagio from Makers Architecture and Urban Design who were present to share a 3D digital model of the North Portwalk design. She reviewed that they are currently working through the 60% design plans and finetuning design decisions before submitting a permit application to the City. The model illustrates some of the design choices that have been made for the gates, railings, etc.
Dylan Yamashita, Makers, explained that the model is broken into three focus areas: upper plaza, portwalk, and central plaza. It is based on the Port’s decision to eliminate the current Port Administration Building and open the space for public use. The Commissioners, staff and design team reviewed the proposed design as follows:
• Upper Plaza – Mr. Yamashita explained that, while the narrow corridor leading to the existing restroom at the far north end would not change, the intent is to make the area more welcoming as an entrance to the Port property by adding a planting area with signage as you enter the plaza. They are proposing a more open space where the planters and the driveway for the building are currently located, but cars would still have access to it. The overhead cover would utilize a removable bollard system so the cover could be rearranged and/or removed when the space is not being used. The idea is to allow space for the restaurants and other businesses to expand out into the public area when the weather permits.
• Portwalk. Mr. Yamashita advised that there would be a new gate on the right-hand side of the building, and a small planter would be added to account for a slight grade change between the existing parking lot and the actual boardwalk to ensure that the grades even out and match up. Commissioner Faires asked about the size of the space between the gate and if the gate would be moved westward from its present location. Mr. McChesney clarified that the structure, itself, currently protrudes into the walkway by 6 feet. With the new design, it would protrude 4 feet into the walkway. Commissioner Faires asked if the protrusion of the gates onto the walkway would be minimized as much as possible, and Mr. McChesney answered affirmatively. There must be landings at the top to allow space to maneuver the dock carts, etc. Moving the landings westward would create a lot of permitting and design headaches and increase the project costs.
Mr. Yamashita advised that plantings and other structures along the Portwalk would stay low to preserve a view of the Sound, and very shade-tolerant plantings would be used. The electrical substation would service two of the docks, and there would be ramps that provide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access to the Portwalk. While the ramps would not line up with gates, all of the gates would have ramps near them. Commissioner Faires asked how many parking spaces would be eliminated if the electrical substation was relocated to the parking lot. Mr. Yamashita said the design team didn’t consider that option, as they were instructed that the substation could not be more than 60 feet from the dock entrance. Commissioner Preston asked if the substation could be located near the garbage cans at Arnies. Mr. McChesney responded that, from an architectural point of view, incorporating the electrical distribution and all of the infrastructure has been quite a challenge. The distribution system was designed by the electrical engineer, and the proposed location is the most practical place for it.
Mr. Yamashita explained that, while there is currently only one planter design, there are two planting plans for the four planters along the Portwalk. The planters would double as bench seating for people who want to stop and enjoy the view. Commissioner Faires asked the maximum width of the walkway where it is unimpeded (curb to rail), and Mr. Yamashita answered 14 feet.
Commissioner Faires asked if the design team is still contemplating the option of not using the glass blocks for the Portwalk surface. Mr. Yamashita answered that the design is moving forward with the glass block option. Ms. Williams pointed out that the glass-block design meets the criteria from an environmental standpoint. Mr. McChesney acknowledged that there are alternative materials, but the Port has not been satisfied with the timber materials on the current Portwalk. While FRP is serviceable, it looks utility grade from a design point of view. He reminded them that, as required by code, the material must allow for light transmissibility. Commissioner Faires summarized that the glass-block material would cost an estimated $500,000 more than the industrial grade Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) grid and the Commission decided that the glass-block material was the best option. Ms. Williams emphasized that the Port’s Maintenance Manager weighed in on the discussions from a maintenance standpoint. In addition to meeting the 75% transmissibility requirement, Mr. McChesney added that the glass blocks would also have a texture to prevent slipping accidents.
• Central Plaza – Mr. Yamashita explained that the Central Plaza would be constructed where the current Administration Building is located. The existing sidewalk between the Edmonds Yacht Club and Administration Buildings would remain, as it would provide a buffer between the public space and the private events at the yacht club. The plaza would open onto the Portwalk, and there would be a platform seating area in the center where people can gather. The proposed multi-stall restroom would be connected to the sewer system. Commissioner Preston asked if showers would be available in the restroom building. Ms. Williams answered that the restrooms would be for the public and tenants to use, and no shower facilities would be provided.
Ms. Williams pointed out that the design includes a few different plant beds in the plaza area. The raised platform, with stairs, would provide a place for people to gather. Commissioner Orvis asked if railings would need to be provided for safety. Ms. Williams said the original design included a ramp in the back, but that designed was later determined to be unsafe for strollers or wheelchairs. The current design would be accessible on all sides of the structure, meaning that a person in a wheelchair could pull up to the step and be at the same level as the same person sitting on the step.
Ms. Williams noted that the raised structure in the Central Plaza has a rough-edged design to bring in the feeling of rocks and mountains, but also to prevent skateboards. The design team has identified a potential area location for an art piece in the plaza area.
Ms. Williams noted that a planting bed would be strategically located to block the restroom and provide more privacy. Stefani Wildhaber, Makers, added that the separate existing bump outs along the Portwalk would be consolidated in front of the Central Plaza, resulting in a larger open area. Ms. Williams said they have talked about bringing extra power to the Central Plaza area so that activities, such as food trucks and music, could be accommodated. The wooden benches shown in the design would match one of the options being considered for the railing caps along the Portwalk.
Commissioner Faires asked where parking would be provided for people visiting the Central Plaza. Ms. Williams said she doesn’t anticipate a reduction in the number of parking spaces available. Ms. Wildhaber pointed out that additional parking spaces would be added in the area that is currently occupied by the Port Administration Building. Commissioner Faires observed that the Central Plaza is intended to be a public gathering area, which would likely require enhanced parking. He suggested that the design team pay close attention to parking.
• Railings and Railing Caps. Mr. Yamashita provided examples of potential railing materials. Mr. McChesney reported that, last week, Port staff and Dennis Titus from CG Engineering did a field trip to the new multimodal terminal in Mukilteo to look at their railing and get some design ideas. They believe that, for appearance and durability, the anodized aluminum (bronze look) makes the most sense. The initial cost of the anodized aluminum is at the higher end, but it is more durable and requires less maintenance. He said they haven’t resolved what the rail cap would look like. While wood would look nice, it is difficult to maintain. Commissioner Faires asked staff to provide cost comparative information on the various railing alternatives. Ms. Williams responded that cost information is available and could be shared with the Commissioners. Ms. Wildhaber noted that, in addition to the railing, the light fixtures and poles and trash receptacles would also be metal. They need to make sure that all of the elements go together.
Mr. McChesney reported that, based on the field trip, the design team believes that galvanized light poles make a lot of sense, but they didn’t like the galvanized material for the railing, itself. Ms. Wildhaber agreed that the multimodal terminal in Mukilteo is a great example, as it uses a wide variety of materials, including some that didn’t turn out well. Again, Mr. McChesney said the anodized rail seemed to the most practical and attractive. However, the joints were fitted together sloppily and not welded. Ms. Wildhaber commented that welded joints and connections would hold up better. To avoid problems with erosion, she also cautioned that special attention would need to be given wherever the aluminum comes together with steel.
Commissioner Faires asked how far south the new gates would be carried. Mr. McChesney said the project would end at M and N Dock, so new gates would only be installed in the North Marina as part of the current project. Commissioner Faires asked if the new gates would be equipped with cameras, keys, etc. Mr. McChesney said they would have an electronic fob entry system. He added that the intent is to eventually carry that same design down to the south marina.
Commissioner Orvis said he still has concerns about the aluminum steel welding. Mr. McChesney responded that the railing discussion is still an open question. At this stage, they are just sharing observations and ideas. Galvanized is not out of the question, and staff is simply sharing what they observed with the Commission. Commissioner Johnston commented that it is necessary to balance aesthetics and manufacturing practices when it comes to making decisions about the railing. It would be helpful to have data of the different types of materials as far as installation, maintenance costs, etc. Mr. McChesney advised the information is available and would be circulated to the Commissioners.
Commissioner Preston asked if the wood on the seating areas and steps of the Central Plaza would be synthetic or real wood. Ms. Wildhaber answered that it would be a sustainable hardwood material from the Philippines. The same material would be used for the planter bed seats. Commissioner Preston asked if this same hardwood could be used for the railing caps, and Ms. Williams agreed that is one of the options. Ms. Wildhaber cautioned that the hardwood would need to be oiled on a regular basis to maintain the original color. However, they could decide to let it turn grey. Mr. McChesney commented that keeping hardwood new and shiny is a problem because you can’t do the work over the water. One solution is to have a wooden top cap that could be removed in sections, sanded down and resurfaced in the shop. However, from a maintenance point of view, staff would like to avoid this option.
Ms. Williams reported that the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review has been completed and submitted to the City of Edmonds, and staff is working to finalize a few additional items for the permit application. Mr. McChesney reported that the Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) has been submitted and it is currently under review. There is some ongoing discussion with the Corps of Engineers having to do with where the high tideline is measured. The Corps has been very helpful, and staff will meet with them soon to chart the right path. At this point, they don’t have any indication of when the JARPA will be approved. There is also a parallel permit track having to do with the Shoreline Permit the City is in charge of. Both of the permits have similar requirements, but they aren’t exactly the same.
Commissioner Faires observed that Makers did a good job of illustrating what the walkway might look like and providing alternatives for the railings, but they haven’t talked about the substructure under the walkway that will require significant replacement. Mr. McChesney advised that Dennis Titus from CG Engineering was present to discuss the substructure.
Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, explained that the concrete panels would be supported by steel beams and pile caps. The existing timber pile caps and timber stringers would all be removed. A new steel sheet pile wall and a concrete pile cap would replace the existing timber bulkhead. Commissioner Faires asked how the current proposal differs from the very preliminary plans that were presented to the Commission 6 months ago, and Mr. Titus answered that the current and preliminary plans are almost exactly the same conceptually, but more detail has been added.
Mr. Titus advised that replacement of the substructure is part of the entire North Portwalk and Seawall Replacement Project for permitting purposes. The new steel bulkhead would be moved back just a little bit, which counts as additional aquatic space. This can be a benefit in the Port’s discussions with the Corps of Engineers regarding the high tide line. The existing timber piles that are supporting the bulkhead have to stay as they are still connected underground. However, the timber piles supporting the Portwalk would be replaced with steel piles.
Commissioner Faires asked if the current design proposal for the bulkhead would result in a lifespan of 50 years, and Mr. Titus answered affirmatively.
2022 ELECTION OF OFFICERS – TO BE APPROVED AT THE JANUARY 10TH MEETING
The Commissioners discussed whether to move forward with the election of 2022 officers at this meeting or wait until the January 10th meeting. They agreed not to postpone the election until January 10th. They further agreed that the newly elected officers would take over on January 1, 2021. This is consistent with what the Commission has done in previous years.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS NOMINATED COMMISSIONER PRESTON TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT OF THE COMMISSION FOR 2022 AND COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON TO SERVE AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMISSION FOR 2022. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE NOMINATIONS, WHICH WERE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON NOMINATED COMMISSIONER ORVIS TO SERVE AS SECRETARY OF THE COMMISSION FOR 2022. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE NOMINATION, WHICH WAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED.
2022 COMMISSION MEETING SCHEDULE
Commissioner Harris asked if the Commission would have a retreat in 2022. Mr. McChesney answered affirmatively, and added that the intent is to schedule it sometime in the 1st quarter of 2022. He cautioned that the schedule is proforma, and things can change as the year moves forward.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE THE 2022 COMMISSION MEETING SCHEDULE AS PRESENTED IN THE STAFF REPORT. COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
2022 COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS – TO BE APPROVED AT JANUARY 10TH MEETING
The Commissioners agreed to wait to finalize the 2022 Committee Assignments until the January 10th meeting. Commissioner Preston invited the Commissioners to provide their feedback regarding the assignments before the January 10th meeting, so he can prepare the document for Commission approval on January 10th.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Council Member Vivian Olson said it was interesting to listen to the consultant’s update on the North Seawall and Portwalk Project. She reported that much of the City Council’s time is currently occupied with the streetery issue. Commissioner Orvis observed that the streetery outside the theatre, which has been painted to look more attractive, looks so much better than the others. He suggested that the streeteries could be made to look more attractive.
Council Member Olson advised that the City is in desperate need of new staffing. She invited the Commissioners to refer potential candidates to the City of Edmonds. They are looking for an Economic Development Director, a Public Works Director, and a Social Worker.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney recalled that, at their last meeting, staff advised that the atrium windows at Harbor Square are in dire need of replacement. Since that time, staff has discovered another capital maintenance issue at Harbor Square having to do with the elevator pits in Buildings 3, 4 and 5. He advised that, several months ago, the Port was cited by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) for water in the elevator pits. A company was hired to resolve the problem using epoxy grout, but the repair was insufficient. CG Engineering has now been hired to help the Port find a solution. It appears there is hydrostatic pressure from ground water, and the compression force from the piston going up and down has created capillary cracks because the thickness of the pad is substandard and doesn’t meet current code. At this time, there is no plan for fixing the issue, but the work must be done soon.
Commissioner Orvis requested an update on the atrium window replacement project, and Mr. McChesney reported that the project is currently in the design phase. At this time, he doesn’t know anything more than what he shared at the last meeting.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Harris advised that she would type up her notes from the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Conference and share them with the Commissioners. She commented that the WPPA is considering some changes. For example, Jerry O’Keefe, the WPPA’s Senior Environmental Director is gone, and they are hiring a few contract specialists to work for this session.
Commissioner Johnston said that in addition to a number of discussions he has had with various Commissioners and the Executive Director on safety, maintenance and staffing issues, he attended the Edmonds Civic Roundtable earlier in the day.
Commissioner Orvis reported on his attendance at an Economic Alliance of Snohomish County (EASC) meeting where it was announced that the EASC is seeking to create a physical center to help small businesses address problems. It seems that most small businesses fail not for lack of a creative idea or hard work, but because the people who start them do not understand the legal system, permitting system, etc. Since its formation, the EASC has focused on the large aerospace corporations, which are doing fine now. He said he was also pleased to see that Erica Sugg from the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce has been involved in the EASC and was present at the meeting. This is the first time since the EASC started that a representative from the Chamber was present, and that is a good sign.
Commissioner Faires reported that he attended the November 17th Edmonds Economic Development Commission (EDC) meeting where the whale-watching efforts the Port has made in the past received a lot of attention. He expressed his belief that the City now understands it can do a better job of capturing the whale-watching customers as Edmonds becomes more identified as a whale-watching nexus. He suggested that, going forward, the Port should put some resources to ensure that intercepting the whale-watching customers stays on the City’s list of priorities. He said he plans to attend the EDC’s next meeting on December 15th and would report back to the Commission on December 27th.
Andor Boeck, Edmonds Yacht Club, thanked the Port for the informative presentation on the North Seawall and Portwalk Project and requested more details on the Port’s plan for extending the project further to the south. Mr. McChesney advised that this information is available in the Port’s Public Access Plan. He said he would like to provide a more complete presentation at a future yacht club meeting in early 2022.
Commissioner Faires introduced Jay Grant, the newly-elected Commissioner who will replace him in January 2022. He expressed his belief that he is better qualified than him from a business perspective, and specifically from an experience perspective. He said he is looking forward to the Commission moving forward and continuing to keep the Port of Edmonds healthy and happy.
Commissioner Preston advised that he attended the Edmonds City Council meeting on December 7th, which lasted until 11:30 p.m. There was a lively discussion with a lot of interaction. He said he looks forward to attending additional City Council meetings in 2022.
Commissioner Preston said he would like the Commission’s January 10th agenda to include a discussion about opening the meetings for in-person attendance for members of the public who want to address the Commission. Mr. McChesney agreed that would be a good goal, but he cautioned that they need to see how the next few weeks play out given the new COVID variant. Commissioner Harris also agreed but suggested they consider a hybrid approach that would continue the Zoom option for people who don’t want to attend the meetings in person.
Prior to adjournment, Mr. McChesney presented Commissioner Faires with a memorial book on behalf of the Commissioners and Port staff. The gift was a token of the Port’s appreciation for everything Commissioner Faires has done for the Port of Edmonds and the community and for supporting the Port staff. The Port of Edmonds is a much better place because of his service. Photographs were taken of the Commissioners, including both Commissioner Faires and newly-elected Commissioner Grant.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary