12 Apr Commission Meeting Minutes 3-22-22 Commission and Staff Retreat
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS
SUMMARY MINUTES OF COMMISSION AND STAFF RETREAT
(In person and Via Zoom) March 22, 2022
David Preston, President
Steve Johnston, Vice President
Jim Orvis, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Brian Menard, Director of Facilities and Maintenance
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Economic Development
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Neil Tibbott, Edmonds City Council
CALL TO ORDER
President Preston called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.
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 ITEM:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
COMMISSIONER GRANT SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Darrol Haug, Edmonds, reminded the Commissioners that the Port District is larger than just the marina, and most of the Port’s tax revenue comes from outside of the waterfront area. As they review and update the Port’s strategic plan, he suggested the Commission figure out a strategy for fulfilling the Port’s primary role and responsibility of economic development throughout the entire community. The Port could become the creative lever that helps the citizens within the Port District understand and support projects that benefit the community. He also urged them to do more public outreach to the community beyond the waterfront. Although it may require more taxes, the Port may be able to convince the community that certain projects would be for their good.
STRATEGIC PLAN AND MISSION STATEMENT
Mr. McChesney noted that the Port’s Strategic Plan and Mission Statement were last updated in 2014. He recalled that in recent discussions, the Commissioners have indicated a desire to make the Mission Statement more succinct, as the intent is to simply remind the Commission and public of the Port’s role and responsibility in the community. To aid in this discussion, staff provided examples of mission statements from other ports, where the recurring theme captures the idea of both economic development and environmental stewardship. Economic development is a term that could almost mean anything, and that was what Mr. Haug was alluding to in his earlier comments. Ports are public enterprises, and a core element of their mission is economic development. However, no one has successfully come up with a definition of what that means and how expansive it should be. He suggested the Commission could spend some time talking about that.
The Commissioners shared a number of other port’s mission statements. They discussed that the Port’s economic development capability isn’t limited to port-owned properties. The Port is legally able to participate in economic development projects and properties within the Port District boundaries, and they can also partner with other ports to do projects outside of the Port District.
The Commissioners discussed the following as potential mission statements:
• To responsibly pursue economic and community development, promote public access and improve the district for its citizens and greater community. (From the Port of Poulsbo)
• To operate and sustain the Port of Edmonds as an asset of great benefit to the Edmonds/Woodway community and Port stakeholders.
• To be the best public port in the United States by creating a choice homeport destination dedicated to providing quality, service, value and convenience to the public and tenants in an economically and environmentally responsible manner.
Commissioner Grant suggested that the Mission Statement should outline the Port’s future strategy without being too specific. There was general consensus to move away from the detailed business plan concept. They discussed that some of the elements are out of date and other elements need to be emphasized. The Communications Committee agreed to work with staff to draft a revision to the Mission Statement for the Commission to consider at a future meeting.
Mr. McChesney asked the Commissioners to share their thoughts on potential changes to the Strategic Plan. For example, there isn’t anything in the plan regarding the Port’s tourism program, and there could be more emphasis on public access. It could also be updated to incorporate the Port’s current environmental programs.
NORTH PORTWALK/SEAWALL PROJECT (Dennis Titus/CG Engineering)
Mr. McChesney introduced Dennis Titus from CG Engineering, who was present to brief the Commission on the North Portwalk/Seawall. In particular, he asked Mr. Titus to share some of the engineering and architectural challenges that have come up during the project’s design, as well as the current project schedule. In addition, Mr. Titus will review the latest cost estimates.
Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, shared background information about him and his company. He reviewed that the team of consultants for the project include:
• CG Engineering is doing the structural and civil engineering
• Makers Architecture is doing the architectural design and public access plan
• Landau Associates is doing the geotechnical engineering, environmental study and permitting for federal permits
• The Harris Group is designing the plumbing
• Harbor Power is designing the electrical upgrade
Mr. Titus reviewed that the North Portwalk is about 950 feet long and runs from Arnies all the way down to the Port’s Administration Building. The project was spurred on by a condition assessment that found some deficiencies in the structure under the Portwalk. The project will involve replacing the Portwalk and the substructure, creating a plaza in the north and central areas, resurfacing the parking area and upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems.
Mr. Titus shared an image of the existing Portwalk and briefly explained how it was constructed. He also provided photographs to illustrate the structural damage that was found via the condition assessment. He noted that, as per the assessment, the estimated remaining lifespan of the existing wood pilings is between 5 and 8 years. He explained that, as proposed, the wood piles on the upper bulkhead would be replaced with steel sheet piles and the steel piles on the lower bulkhead would be repaired in place using concrete. He provided photographs and shared specific details about the structural components of the project design, which is anticipated to have a 40-to-50-year lifespan.
Mr. Titus also shared photographs of the existing decking, which is reaching the end of its operational life and will eventually need to be replaced. In response to Commissioner Preston’s question, Mr. Titus advised that, while the treated wood met the requirements when it was installed in 1990, it would not meet the current requirements and a different treatment would be required. As currently proposed, the timber decking would be replaced with precast concrete panels, with glass blocks in them to transmit light through. The new Portwalk would be raised 6 inches to about the elevation of the existing yellow curb.
Because some excavation would be required to accommodate the project, Mr. McChesney cautioned that the design needs to be very specific about how much disturbance there will be in the intertidal zone. Mr. Titus noted that the only soil that will need to be removed is the soil behind the existing wooden bulkhead.
Mr. Titus shared some of the design challenges of the project:
• Driving the new piles will be difficult because the soil is very soft down to about 25 feet deep, with very hard soil below that. They are looking to minimize embedment into the hard soil by using a soil anchor on the top.
Commissioner Grant asked if there would be any concern that shifting might occur in the event of an earthquake, and Mr. Titus answered that the project would be designed to restrain all of the soil in the event of an earthquake and/or liquefaction. Mr. McChesney asked if a vibratory hammer would be used to drill into the harder soil to place the piles, and Mr. Titus answered affirmatively.
• There are some storm drains that empty out into the harbor. Two of the three are small 10 to 12-inch diameter pipes, which will be capped while driving the piles. The City’s main outfall at the north end, is a 36-inch pipe that cannot be capped. Instead, they plan to drive shallow sheet piles on top of it, bridge over it, and then drive deeper ones on each side of it.
• The Portwalk stops at the north end of the Port’s property, but the bulkhead continues underneath the fishing pier all the way to the very north breakwater. The plan is to replace the sheet piles and bulkhead for the entire north breakwater. The fishing pier is owned by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) but managed by the City of Edmonds. Both entities are okay with the project but want to review the final design. In addition, they want to leave the fishing pier open during the summer when it is the busiest, but that is when the in-water work window is open for construction. The structure of the fishing pier would not be impacted, but it will be necessary to coordinate the project schedule.
Mr. McChesney explained that the access to the fishing pier crosses Port property by an easement. Commissioner Grant requested a map to illustrate the location of the fishing pier and its access in relation to Port property. Mr. Titus agreed to review the land survey and get back to the Commission.
• In order to maintain access to the docks, the design team is working on a phasing plan for the project. The idea is to provide a temporary float between the adjacent dock. While this approach would result in the loss of a few slips at a time, it won’t necessitate closing an entire dock at a time.
Mr. McChesney pointed out that the majority of the work will need to be done from the land side, and this will dictate how the construction work moves forward. Mr. Titus suggested that the phasing would be set up to do the entire frontage of the Edmonds Yacht Club at the same time. Mr. McChesney reported that he and Ms. Williams have met with the Club’s Executive Committee to discuss the project, and they are scheduled to present to their entire membership at the end of April.
Commissioner Grant suggested the need to solidify a communication program to inform the community and tenants about the proposed project and its anticipated timeline. Mr. Titus advised that the project is at about 70% design but is in a holding pattern at this time, waiting for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to complete its review. Mr. McChesney commented that the intent is to have a complete picture of the project before starting the communication blitz, and they are just about there. Staff will begin working with the Communications Committee to perfect the communications plan. Ms. Williams noted that there is a page on the Port’s website dedicated to the Port’s two large projects, which will be continually updated. In addition, the project was communicated in the most recent mailer and in a press release.
Mr. Titus provided an overview of the Portwalk design, which will include an upper plaza by Arnies Restaurant and a central plaza where the existing administration building is located. Again, he said the boardwalk will be constructed of pre-cast concrete panels with glass blocks to let light through to the intertidal zone, as required by code. The outside handrails and security gates would be replaced, and new planters and lighting would be added. They are also considering other elements such as bollards and planters between the Portwalk and the parking area.
Commissioner Grant asked if lighting requirements and restrictions for projects over the water are still subjective. Mr. Titus answered yes, and said the design team will prepare a light study, which will be reviewed by the USACE to identify required mitigation. The project will be proposed as self-mitigating, as it will remove a few of the existing creosote timber piles and move the breakwater back to create more intertidal space.
Commissioner Grant asked if the gates could be pushed back so they don’t protrude so far into the Portwalk. Mr. McChesney reviewed that, from a permitting standpoint, it was important not to increase the amount of over-water coverage. Rather than having a series of smaller bump outs, they were consolidated into a single, wider bump out that ties in with the Portwalk. Regarding the bump outs on the individual floats that impede the walkway, Mr. Titus explained that the gates will be smaller, but they can’t push them out further because it would require bump outs and they are trying to use the existing gangways.
Mr. Titus presented the proposed Portwalk design, noting the following:
• Upper Plaza Area. The new upper plaza area will have a removeable structure. The plaza will improve the flow into the Portwalk and provide space for signage and landscaping to screen the ranger station and restroom. The goal was to make it more of an entrance into Port property. The space could be rented out to the restaurants or other business owners in the building.
• Central Plaza Area. They can’t increase the overwater coverage, but they can consolidate all of the bump outs into a larger plaza area where the existing Administration Building is located. It will provide a good view of the Olympics and serve as a passive gathering area. The restroom facility will be an off-the-shelf precast concrete structure. There will be a raised seating area, as well as artwork and landscaping to separate the Edmonds Yacht Club (EYC) area from the plaza. Mr. McChesney noted that they will work with the EYC to figure out what the landscaping needs to be.
Commissioner Grant asked if the plaza design is fixed at this point, and Mr. McChesney answered that the footprint is set but the design elements are conceptual. The Commission can have more discussion about the final design. Commissioner Grant suggested the plaza could be designed to host events such as Sea Jazz. Commissioner Harris noted that the existing Administration Building will have to be removed quickly after the new one is finished so that the area can be used as a staging area for the seawall project. Actual construction of the plaza will be the last part of the project.
• Portwalk Surface. The decking surface will be precast concrete panels with glass blocks. There is only one manufacturer and the lead time is 18 months. That means they will need to purchase the panels right after the project is bid. The glass will have a non-stick coating, and the individual glass blocks can be replaced. The Commissioners asked about the texture of the surface, and Mr. Titus agreed to look into it and report back.
• Security Gates. The existing security gates extend about 6 feet into the Portwalk, and the new ones will only extend 4 feet. They will have illuminated letters, and they are looking at using anodized aluminum to match the railings.
• Railings. Brushed anodized aluminum will be used for the railings based on its longevity, corrosion resistance, scratch resistance, and lower maintenance costs. The top cap will be anodized aluminum rather than wood, which is problematic from a maintenance point of view. Commissioner Grant suggested that perhaps the top cap could have a different finish to provide contrast.
Permitting and Project Schedule
Mr. Titus reported that all of the scheduled milestones have been met today. They have submitted 30% and 60% designs for Port review, and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review has been approved. A permit application has been submitted to USACE. He explained that the goal is to reach 90% design at about the time the USACE review is substantially complete so their comments can be incorporated. The bid process can move forward shortly after the permit has been issued, and construction is tentatively scheduled for mid-2024. The construction schedule will be about 18 months.
Steve Quarterman, Landau Associates, said his task is to stay on top of USACE to make sure the permit review is still progressing. He anticipates the permit will be issued by the end of the year, but he will know more as the process plays out. He noted that applications for City permits have been deferred until the Federal Permit process is further along. He reviewed the Federal permit requirements as follows:
• SEPA approval from the Port
• Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) from USACE
• Hydraulics Project Permit from WDFW
• Stormwater Permit from the Department of Ecology (DOE)
Mr. Quarterman reported that the team has completed preapplication meetings with the City of Edmonds and has had discussions with WDFW. The Port has issued the SEPA determination so that process is complete. They have also submitted the JARPA to the USACE, which included the biological and cultural resources evaluations. These two evaluations will require outside consultations before the permit documents can be finalized. The biological evaluation is in regard to Endangered Species and was sent to the WDFW and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries (NMFS). There has been a backlog of shoreline projects due to a disagreement between USACE and NMFS about how to process and review applications for native species. They are in the process of developing a programmatic biological opinion for maintenance projects, which this project may comply with, and a decision is expected in June. He is continuing discussions with USACE to see how the project may fit within that programmatic framework or identify other items that may be needed. However, he doesn’t anticipate receiving a concurrence on the evaluation before the programmatic comes out.
Commissioner Orvis noted that Commissioners have been previously advised to talk to congressional representatives about the backlog that has resulted for a disagreement between NMFS and USACE. Commissioner Grant said it would be helpful to have more information about what the conflict is, as well as any data that would help them articulate what the challenges are. He observed that Senator Cantwell is the chair of the Commerce Committee. In the past, she has invited groups in for briefings, and the results have been positive.
Mr. McChesney advised that there is a mini consortium of Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) ports working on the issue. Mr. Quarterman added that some industry groups have teamed up to try to get movement from the NMFS and USACE, as well. His understanding is that the programmatic agreement that is anticipated in June is an outcome of this push.
Mr. Quarterman explained that the point of contention centers on how the baseline for the application is treated. It’s NMFS belief that replacement projects on piers, such as replacing a pile, should be treated the same as a brand-new project unless mitigation was done previously. They want to require mitigation for projects that are already in place.
Mr. Quarterman said he hasn’t received confirmation from USACE about whether or not they have reviewed the biological evaluation and submitted it to the NMFS for consultation. He said he would like to receive initial feedback from USACE before considering any outside political pressure.
Mr. Quarterman reported that an archaeological subconsultant prepared a cultural resources evaluation, which the USACE will use for consultation with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). The evaluation determined that the Administration Building meets the criteria as a potentially historic building because of its association with waterfront development. However, he emphasized that the determination will not preclude demolition of the building and development of the portwalk. Mr. McChesney said he has spoken with the Director of the DAHP, who indicated that there shouldn’t be a problem with building demolition. Any mitigation would likely involve taking a picture for the history book.
Mr. Quarterman said once consultations with the other agencies have been completed, USACE will likely issue a permit in a month or two and the federal permitting process will be concluded. The application for Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) from WDFW could proceed now that the SEPA Determination has been issued, and there will be a certain timeframe to act on the project. He reviewed the timeframe for each application as follows:
• The SEPA Determination doesn’t have an expiration.
• The Shoreline Conditional Use Permit from the City of Edmonds will have a 5-year expiration, with a potential 1-year extension.
• The JARPA permit from USACE will have a 5-year expiration, with a potential 2-year extension.
• The HPA Permit from WDFW will have a 5-year expiration, but you have to begin work within 2 years of receiving the permit.
• The Building Permit from the City of Edmonds will have a 2-year timeframe.
• The Clearing and Grading Permit from the City of Edmonds will also have a 2-year timeframe.
Regarding earlier questions about the regulations related to lighting on the Portwalk, Mr. Quarterman explained that the light issue is related to the Endangered Species Act. It is somewhat confusing because the glass blocks are needed to allow light to shine through, but they also must limit artificial night light from shining through. Ambient or accent lighting would be preferred near the water.
Commissioner Grant recalled that in earlier years, lighting under docks was required for homeland security, so it appears that the lighting requirements are subjective. At this point, there must be enough history of what has been approved to better articulate what is and isn’t allowed. Mr. Quarterman agreed to look at projects at other ports to identify what type of lighting conditions or concerns have been brought up. Commissioner Orvis observed that the DOE is reluctant to come up with criteria and rules because it limits their flexibility.
Mr. McChesney asked when the full package of permits might be issued. Mr. Quarterman said he is optimistic for the end of the year, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it extends into 2023.
Engineering/Architectural Issues (continued)
Mr. Titus provided a general rendering of the proposed pedestrian flow through the Portwalk and said there is concern about the existing electrical cabinets by each of the gates. They extend out into the walkway and reduce the Portwalk width to about 4 feet. There is also concern about protecting pedestrians from traffic. Staff has reported that cars have gone over the 6-inch curb and onto the Portwalk. The new Portwalk would be raised just 6 inches, resulting in a similar situation. One option would be to add a 2-foot-wide planter strip, but the electrical cabinets and lighting would remain on the walkway. Another option would be to increase the width of the planter strip to 4 or 6 feet and then place the electrical cabinets and lighting in the planter strip. While the walkway wouldn’t be wider, all of the obstructions would be moved to the planter strip. He shared potential parking configurations based on different planter strip widths. He summarized that the wider planter strip would slightly increase construction costs and a few parking spaces would be lost, but it would allow for an ADA access ramp between the parking area and the Portwalk.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ACCEPT THE OPTION FOR ANGLED PARKING, WITH A 7-FOOT WALKWAY AND ADA ACCESS ACROSS THE PLANTING STRIP. COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Mr. McChesney noted that a portion of the project might fall under Rule 171 for public road construction, where you pay a use tax on the materials but no sales tax. The exemption was used when the original Portwalk was constructed. Ms. Drennan agreed to research and report back.
Mr. Titus shared cost estimates for the project, which are based on 60% drawings. He cautioned that costs vary day-to-day and it has been difficult for him to keep up with the changes.
At the request of Mr. McChesney, Mr. Titus reviewed the electrical component of the project. Currently, the electrical is served by a cabinet on the Administration Building, which will need to be replaced. In addition, the electrical service to each of the docks must also be upgraded and all of the lighting in the parking lot will be replaced. It was noted they must also upgrade the Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection on the water. Mr. McChesney asked if the cost estimate for electrical work includes the feeders and taps on the docks or just the service to the docks. Mr. Titus said it only includes service to the docks.
Mr. Menard explained that the taps, feeders and transformers will eventually need to be replaced, as well. He explained that there is currently 30-amp service from P Dock north, and new boats are typically set up on 50-amp systems. Upgrading the system requires overhauling the entire electrical system. The electrical upgrades done as part of this project will include new distribution system to the near switch gear and upgrading the pedestals from M/N Docks north with GFCI breakers as required by code. It will not address upgrading the system from 30 to 50 amps. Upgrading to 50-amp service will require an overhaul of the entire system, which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and there would be no cost recovery. However, the switch gear and the cabling going to the floats could be upgraded at the time of construction to enable the 50 amp upgrades to the electrical systems on the floats. Mr. McChesney noted that some of the floats aren’t suitable for the bigger vessels, and the 30-amp service is sufficient for the smaller vessels. Mr. Menard and Mr. Baker agreed that for the North Marina, it would make the most sense to upgrade P and Q Docks.
Commissioner Orvis asked Mr. Titus’ thoughts on how best to incorporate public art into the project. Mr. Titus responded that there will be areas in the south and central plazas for public art.
Ms. Williams reviewed the anticipated maintenance projects at Harbor Square, including replacement of the atrium windows in Buildings 1, 3 and 4 and elevator pit repairs in Building 1. Painting will also need to be added to the maintenance timeline. She invited the Commissioners to share their thoughts on additional projects.
Commissioner Preston asked for a timeline for window replacement project. Ms. Williams answered that they are still working on the design, and replacement will probably happen over a two-year period to allow tenants to be shifted around. Mr. McChesney said he is hoping the project can be done by the end of 2023. Mr. Titus shared details of the proposed design, noting that it is still a work in progress.
Commissioner Preston asked if there is any plan to improve the appearance of the north sides of the buildings. Ms. Williams answered that staff will be pressure washing and touching up the paint in these areas starting in the spring.
Commissioner Grant asked if there is a long-range maintenance plan for Harbor Square. Mr. McChesney answered that they do not have a comprehensive long-range maintenance plan, but they have been working over the past several years to catch up on capital maintenance. The roofs and nearly all of the HVAC units have been replaced, and significant work was done on Building 3 two years ago. Ms. Williams agreed it would be a good idea to formalize a maintenance plan. Mr. McChesney said the plan is to implement a similar cost-recovery program that is used at the marina for Harbor Square.
Given the significant damage that was found and repaired on Building 3, Ms. Williams asked the Commissioners to share their thoughts on whether or not it is necessary to do a condition survey of any of the other buildings at Harbor Square. Mr. Menard said the last survey was done in 2007, so it might be a good idea to reevaluate the buildings.
In addition to the elevator pit and atrium replacement projects, Mr. McChesney advised that the Port also does ongoing landscaping and paving improvements. Commissioner Grant noted that the roots of some of the trees have grown out the base of the buildings and probably should be removed.
Ms. Williams asked the Commissioners to share their thoughts on what could be done to increase safety at Harbor Square. She noted that additional speed bumps and flags on speed limit signs were added a few years ago to address the top concern of speeding through the complex. Commissioner Grant suggested that the roadway between Buildings 2 and 3 could be identified as a roadway to encourage people to observe the stop signs. Commissioner Orvis suggested that the natural walkway between the new corner park and the marsh could be improved. Mr. McChesney said this area is part of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) right-of-way, but the Harbor Inn has been maintaining it. Commissioner Orvis suggested the Port encourage the City of Edmonds to create a gravel or crushed rock pathway to provide a safe walkway from the intersection to the marsh as opposed to having to walk through the Harbor Square parking lot.
Commissioner Preston asked if there has been a problem with break-ins at Harbor Square. Ms. Williams said there haven’t been a lot of tenant break-ins, but there have been things taken outside of some of the suites. Car break-ins have occurred at Harbor Square Athletic Club, as well. Commissioner Grant reported that, in recent discussions with representatives from the Harbor Square Athletic Club and Harbor Inn, it was noted that theft is up. There has been an increase in thefts in Edmonds overall.
Commissioner Preston said he and Commissioner Grant have talked about purchasing a blade that hooks on the front of a pick-up truck and/or a snowblower so the lots can be cleared out quicker when there is a big event. Mr. Menard suggested that if snow removal is a major priority, the Port could rent a tractor and have it ready to go when a big event is anticipated. He commented that using a blade would require the Port to purchase a 4-wheel drive truck, and he doesn’t have a lot of space to store additional equipment. Mr. McChesney said he doesn’t believe it would be cost effective to gear up for the relatively infrequent snow incidents that occur. They haven’t received any significant complaints, and staff will continue to do the best they can with what they have.
Commissioner Grant suggested that additional signage should be added to the buildings and entrances at Harbor Square to help people find the tenants. Commissioner Preston noted the proliferation of A-frame signs. Mr. McChesney agreed that the Port has been more tolerant of the signs during the pandemic, and staff intends to work on the situation.
ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING (Katerina Prochaska/Jackson Main Architecture)
Mr. McChesney introduced Katerina Prochaska from Jackson Main Architecture, the architect and project leader on the new Administration/Maintenance Building. The project is nearly ready to move forward, and the purpose of this discussion is to provide a progress report and talk about some outstanding issues.
Permit Status and Project Schedule
Ms. Prochaska advised that a permit application was submitted last fall. Permit corrections have been made and they are nearly finished with City review. They are working to provide the City with additional information related to the traffic impact analysis and stormwater. The hope is that the review will be completed at the beginning of April. At the same time, they are finalizing the bid documents (drawings and specifications).
Mr. McChesney asked Ms. Prochaska to comment on her strategy for addressing the stormwater and traffic impact analysis issues with the City. He noted that there has been some disconnect between the comments that were initially submitted by the City’s stormwater engineer, who is no longer with the City, and a consultant who has assumed the responsibility of reviewing the project. Regarding the traffic impact analysis requirement, the Port’s position is that there shouldn’t be any traffic analysis or mitigation requirements because all they are doing is moving the building across the street. In addition, the mitigation that will occur at the site of the existing administration building will improve the public access.
Ms. Prochaska responded that, before making a decision on the traffic impact analysis and mitigation, The City has asked them to show on a map how the existing building next to the Portwalk will be demolished and the new building will be constructed. They have also requested anticipated construction and demolition dates. In her view, it is a documentation exercise at this point. Outside of that, the City hasn’t shared any other concerns. Mr. McChesney said that the Port will want to be directly involved in discussions about potential traffic mitigation fees because many are subjective and arguable points. Ms. Prochaska agreed to bring any additional concerns to the Port’s attention.
As far as stormwater, Ms. Prochaska said the stormwater consultant has laid the groundwork and understanding for the project’s stormwater design, but the person who originally made the correction to the civil permit is no longer with the City. Mr. Titus said the stormwater issue was worked out with the previous reviewer, but then the project was turned over to a third-party reviewer who wasn’t privy to the conversation. The stormwater consultant is working with City staff now, and it should be a non-issue.
Mr. McChesney said he understands that the two issues can be resolved, but he is concerned that they be resolved expeditiously. When the project was started, the City’s Building Official made it seem like the review process could move forward expeditiously, but now they are falling behind. Ms. Prochaska agreed to do all she can to keep the permit review moving forward.
Ms. Prochaska shared drawings and provided a quick overview of the site plan. She also shared drawings of the floor plans and described the various elements of the proposed design. She provided elevation drawings, as well. At the request of Commissioner Grant, she shared more details about the Commission meeting room, which would be slightly larger than the existing meeting room.
Mr. McChesney asked if the design includes triple-pane windows on the east side of the building to address acoustical issues related to the railroad tracks. Instead of triple-pane windows, Ms. Prochaska said a more cost-effective approach is to use double-pane windows that are set wider apart, with one of the panes being laminated.
Mr. Titus described the general construction plan for the proposed building, which is typical for a steel frame building with the exception of foundation design. A geotechnical report and soil study was required for the project, which found the soil across the street is similar to the soil under the Portwalk. The soil is very poor for supporting buildings and susceptible to liquefaction. If there is a liquefaction event, the soil has the opportunity to spread in two directions, into the marsh or towards the marina. They looked at the following options for the foundation:
• Matt Foundation. This type of foundation would consist of a giant, concrete raft that the building would sit on. While this would be the least expensive option, there is potential for up to three inches of differential settlement over the next 10 years, which could lead to damage to the building, uneven floors, windows that do not work, etc. They are not recommending this option.
• Pile Supported Foundation. This type of foundation would involve driving piles around all of the load-bearing parts of the building, through the soft material and down to the bedrock down below. There would be almost no settlement over the long term, and the foundation would perform very well in the event of an earthquake. However, it would be the costliest option and is not recommended.
• Ground Improvement. They looked at a few different types of ground improvement and decided to go with a rammed-aggregate foundation. This consists of drilling a hole, adding base course material, and pushing it down into the soil. Upon compaction, it spreads out and densifies the entire soil. A conventional foundation can be used with this option.
Mr. Titus said the Jacobson’s Marine Building was done without any soil improvement. The geotechnical engineer that did the study recommended soil improvement or piles, but the owner elected not to. The building was constructed under the old building code, and the current building code requires additional foundation work. Commissioner Orvis noted that the Jacobson’s Marine Building is substantially lighter than the proposed new building will be. Mr. Titus said soil improvements were done with the Edmonds Yacht Club Building, as well.
Mr. McChesney asked if an independent testing lab would make sure that the rammed-aggregate foundation meets the compaction requirements. Mr. Titus answered that the geotechnical engineer would be the professional inspector to make sure it is done correctly. When they are all done, a general compaction test will be done to make sure the soil is consolidated.
Commissioner Johnston asked if any contamination or causes of concern were encountered during the test drilling, and Mr. Titus answered no.
Commissioner Grant asked if site preparation could start prior to issuance of the building permit. Mr. McChesney said he asked the Building Official if the Port could get the site and grading permit early so they could start site preparation and was told there wouldn’t be any advantage to doing that because the grading permit actually takes the longest to process. The plan is to bid the entire project as a package.
Mr. McChesney summarized that the bid specifications cannot be finalized until all of the City’s issues have been addressed. If they get the building permit in the next week or two, they should be able to go out to bid shortly thereafter. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to have a contract ready to go sometime in June. He said the timeline for construction will depend on lead time on materials and availability of labor, both of which are beyond the Port’s control.
Commissioner Harris asked if there are any timing constraints based on the time of year. Mr. Titus said it would be better to get the foundation in during the drier months, but he doesn’t believe Edmonds has any restrictions as far as a wet season moratorium. Once the foundation is in, the remaining construction can go forward regardless of the time of year.
Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) and Salmon Safe Certification
Mr. Prochaska referred to the most current LEED Checklist, which outlines all of the prerequisites the Port will be required to meet, as well as those they intend to meet. Those requirements the project will achieve or has a higher likelihood of achieving are identified in the “yes” column, and those that do not apply to the project and/or site for a variety of reasons are identified in the “no” column. At this point, they are working to address the items in the “maybe” column. A consultant is working on an energy model for the proposed building to determine whether any of the items in the “Energy and Atmosphere” section could be moved to the “maybe” column. They aren’t yet comfortable providing this data, but the information should be available in the coming weeks.
Ms. Prochaska summarized that, with 53 points currently, the Port is in a comfortable position to qualify for LEED Silver Certification. If some of the “maybe” items can be moved to the “yes” column, it might be possible to achieve LEED Gold Certification. At this point, the team needs to identify the points that are needed to achieve gold certification, as well as any cost additions. This conversation can occur once the energy model has been completed.
If they just followed code, Commissioner Grant asked how many points the project would achieve. Ms. Prochaska said that, apart from the solar array, most of the energy efficiency is coming from following the code. She summarized that, if you just follow the Washington State Energy Code, a project is highly likely to qualify for LEED Silver Certification from an energy perspective. However, there are other requirements beyond the energy use of the building.
Commissioner Grant asked about the additional cost of LEED certification as opposed to the benefits. Ms. Prochaska said the Port would pay for a project to be reviewed by a third party to make sure the items included in the building to meet LEED are installed and functioning correctly. The Port would also pay for the United States Green Building Council to review the project and certify it. From that you would get a plaque on the door that everyone will see when they come through the building. You will also receive the confidence that the building was designed and built to meet the specifications for a LEED building. Commissioner Grant asked how many taxpayer dollars would be paid for that perception, considering the code requirements, themselves, would qualify the building for LEED Certification. Again, Ms. Prochaska said that the Washington State Energy Code requirements would meet all of the requirements in the “Energy and Atmosphere” section, but there are other requirements beyond those related to energy efficiency.
Mr. McChesney said there are two elements that add to the project. One is the certification documentation scorecard, which will cost about $100,000. The other element is the incremental construction costs associated with certification.
Commissioner Grant asked if there would be any additional things the Port would have to do to move the project from silver to gold certification. There are a lot of opinions as to whether or not it is worth certification if you don’t at least achieve gold level. Ms. Prochaska said the Port could increase management of rainwater, purchase fixtures to reduce indoor water use to a higher percentage, etc. If the energy model is perfected the way they anticipate, they may obtain enough points for LEED Gold Certification. The goal is to optimize the energy performance to capture a few more points to offset those they might lose elsewhere. Mr. McChesney observed that without the additional energy model, the Port would have achieved LEED Silver Certification. By doing the supplemental model at a cost of about $8,500, they still won’t have enough points to get to LEED Gold Certification. This calls into question why the energy model was needed. Ms. Prochaska said the energy model is essential to demonstrate compliance with LEED regardless of whether they certify at the silver or gold level. The energy model will also capture one of the “innovation” credits.
Given the Commission’s desire for the Port to be a leader in environmental stewardship, they agreed to support LEED Certification for the project. However, Commissioner Grant pointed out that the project is close to qualifying for LEED Gold Certification, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of the benefits and costs associated with silver versus gold certification. Mr. McChesney reminded them that, once the energy model is done, Ms. Prochaska has agreed to report back with this information.
Ms. Prochaska invited the Commissioners to contact her, through Mr. McChesney, if they have more questions about the LEED Certification criteria, and she could point them to where they can find additional information.
Mr. McChesney recalled that, in a previous discussion, a few things were identified that weren’t specifically included in the cost estimate provided by the consultant. One was the soil improvement and site work, and the other was the conduit from the Marine Operations Office to the new building for fiberoptics. Ms. Prochaska said she was able to verify that the soil improvement and site work was included, but she will need to check on the fiberoptic work and report back.
Ms. Prochaska reviewed the cost estimate for the project. She noted the costs that are attributed to LEED Certification, which equate to $192,033 or 3%, and explained that the number is just for construction and doesn’t include the additional design team costs. Mr. McChesney said that, once the consultant costs are added in, the cost of LEED Certification will likely be closer to $300,000.
Commissioner Preston noted that the numbers listed in the more detailed cost estimate don’t match up with the total cost identified in the summary for LEED Certification. Ms. Prochaska responded that it is challenging to pull out all of the specific costs associated with LEED Certification, as most of them are integrated into the design. She shared a number of examples to illustrate the difficulty of identifying these costs.
Upon inquiry by Commissioner Grant, Mr. McChesney clarified that the City allows 4 feet of additional height to accommodate solar panels on rooftops, but this allowance doesn’t apply to other rooftop mechanical equipment. Ms. Prochaska added that, in conversations with the City, the Port would have to go through the Shoreline Permit process again to get a variance that allows mechanical equipment to be placed on the roof. Based on scheduling and costs, it was determined that wasn’t a route they wanted to take. Mr. McChesney reminded the Commission that the Port had already received a Shoreline Permit from the first attempt to develop the property for a commercial use. The City agreed that the Port wouldn’t need to get another Shoreline Permit for the new building, as long as the design of the new building stayed within the bounds of the previously-approved permit. Going above the height limit for mechanical equipment was never contemplated for the first Shoreline Permit.
Commissioner Preston asked how much the solar panels would extend beyond the height restriction. Mr. Prochaska answered that the actual roof would be 2 feet below the height limit, and they are confident the solar panels can fit in that plus or minus 5-foot range. Commissioner Preston asked if mechanical equipment on the roof would be lower than the solar panels, and Ms. Prochaska answered no.
Commissioner Orvis asked if the Commission room has been designed, and Ms. Prochaska shared some details about the conceptual design and agreed to send more information to Mr. McChesney to forward to the Commission.
Going forward, Mr. McChesney asked Ms. Prochaska to confirm whether the foundation and earth improvements, as well as the conduit for fiberoptics between the new building and the Marina Operations Office, were included in the cost estimate. Ms. Prochaska said the “earthwork” line item in the “Site Work” section includes all of the earthwork, and you can plan that $66,000 to $90,000 of that number will be just for the ram piles. Mr. McChesney requested a count on the number of ram piles that would be needed. He also asked Mr. Titus and Ms. Prochaska to work together to verify the cost estimate for doing all of that work.
Mr. McChesney noted that construction costs are estimated to have increased by about 18.5% since this same time last year. Ms. Prochaska said the price escalation on construction was actually 20%, and that is happening across all of their projects. She reminded them that this would be a “prevailing wage” project and asked staff to review the line items and let her know if some are not needed. For example, “health and safety Covid compliance” was highlighted in orange, as the requirements may change between now and the start of the project. She said another item that impacted the cost is that the set of drawings and specifications had more detailed information in order to better identify actual costs.
PROJECT FINANCING (Tina Drennan)
Cash Flow Model
Ms. Drennan walked the Commission through the Cash Flow Model and explained options for funding the North Portwalk and Seawall Project. She said she used the following assumptions:
• The Administration/Maintenance Building Project would cost $7 million. Construction would start in the 1st Quarter of 2022 and be completed by the end of 2022.
• The North Portwalk and Seawall Project would cost $20 million. Construction would start in 2nd Quarter 2024 and be completed by 3rd Quarter 2025.
• The tax levy would be maxed out for debt service (about $600,000).
• The estimated Limited Tax General Obligation (LTGO) Bond limit is about $19 million.
Ms. Drennan said she prepared seven different options. To explain how she arrived at the different options, she reviewed the details of Option 6, which includes capital reserves, bonds and grants. She then reviewed each of the options with the Commission.
Commissioner Grant expressed his belief that, based on the type of infrastructure the Port will be doing, it wouldn’t be an unrealistic goal to obtain grant funding for up to 75% of the project. Ms. Drennan noted that even a 50% grant funding would allow the remainder of the project to be funded by capital reserves. She pointed out that over the 20-year period of bonds, the Port would end up paying almost 50% of the bond amount in interest.
Commissioner Grant advised that there are a variety of federal grant opportunities, and he has already talked with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and will soon talk with Congressman Larsen, as well. He plans to also contact Senator Cantwell, who chairs the Commerce Committee and has been instrumental in getting a number of grants for parks and infrastructure in the area. The Port can also work with the City and State on potential funding opportunities.
Commissioner Harris suggested it would be helpful for them to talk with other commissioners about potential grant opportunities at the upcoming Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) meeting. Commissioner Preston asked if Ms. Drennan has talked with other finance managers about grant opportunities. Ms. Drennan said most of the grants that other ports have received are related to their airport facilities. Some ports have received smaller grants for walkway projects.
WRAP UP DISCUSSION
Commissioner Grant advised that there is currently a heightened threat of cyberattack. He suggested the Port should consider how to make their system more secure. Mr. McChesney suggested the he could meet with Commissioner Grant, Ms. Drennan and Mr. Osterman to discuss this issue further.
Mr. McChesney thanked Ms. Michaud and Ms. Ebel and the rest of staff for their assistance with the retreat.
The retreat was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary