14 Apr Commission Meeting Minutes 3-29-21
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING
(Via Zoom) March 29, 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
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Harris called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
RECESS TO EXECUTIVE SESSION
Commissioner Harris announced that the Commission would recess into an Executive Session pursuant to RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) to discuss with legal counsel representing agency matters relating to agency enforcement actions, or to discuss the legal counsel representing the agency litigation or potential litigation to which the agency, the governing body, or member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party. She advised that the Executive Session would last approximately 30 minutes, and the Commission would resume the business portion of the special meeting at 7:00 p.m. She further advised that no action would be taken after the Executive Session.
The Executive Session was adjourned at 6:45 p.m., and the business portion of the special meeting was reconvened at 7:00 p.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 ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF MARCH 8, 2021 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED.
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $282,723.66
COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Dave Cheney, Edmonds Yacht Club (EYC), reported that, due to the pandemic, all of the EYC’s meetings and activities are being held virtually. To compensate, the members have been out cruising more than before. Of all the clubs in the area, the EYC has been the most active and the safest. For some of the events, meals are provided (breakfast and dinner), primarily using wrapped and contained types of meals. In some cases, they have prepared and delivered meals to the boat, and they have been asked to continue that after the pandemic is over.
Mr. Cheney reported that the EYC’s Holiday on the Docks was successful in a time when everything else was shut down. They received a tremendous amount of public feedback from people who appreciated the event. He thanked the Port for helping them make the event happen.
Mr. Cheney observed that numerous people walk along the marina at all hours of the day. Rather than having a potluck dinner indoors, the EYC members are meeting at the patio area and walking at their own pace and in their own groups. This has provided an excellent way for the members to stay in touch.
Mr. Cheney said the EYC will have its first rental event in April (a wedding), and a decent number of events are scheduled throughout the summer. The EYC has implemented as many safety measures as can be required, including sanitation stations, temperature checks, personal protective equipment, etc. They will work with each person that does a rental to make sure they understand the requirements.
Mr. Cheney said the EYC’s annual auction was pushed back from April to May. Rather than going to the maximum allowed by Phase 3, the EYC is looking to have 9 tables of 8 people each to allow distance between the tables and people. Lastly, Mr. Cheney reported that there was great participation in the EYC’s Education Nights in January, February and March. About half of the participants were EYC members and half were not. He also reported that about 25% of the EYC members have been fully vaccinated.
Mr. McChesney commented that the Commission is looking to have a retreat the week of May 10th. As they will need a location where social distance can be created, the Port may want to rent space in the Edmonds Yacht Club. He asked the best way for Port staff to provide an update to the EYC Board or general membership on the North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction Project. Although the project will not come to fruition for a few years, it is important for the EYC to be briefed so they can plan together. At this time, the project is well into the design and permitting phase, and staff would like to provide an update to the EYC sometime soon. Mr. Cheney suggested the update should be presented to the entire membership. The current plan is to resume in-person meetings in the fall, but they will likely continue with the Zoom format, too. He suggested that would be a good time for the presentation to be scheduled, and Mr. McChesney concurred.
Council Member Vivian Olsen reported that the City Council has not been brought into discussions about the Walkable Main Street Program, but she is trying to get them invited via ordinance. She observed that when the City Council gets involved, the conversation becomes more public. She said she participated in the recent stakeholder meeting, where there was feedback that the program isn’t working great for everyone. She is hoping that other options will be considered to make the program work better for all parties, and she invited the Port to weigh in on the issue. Mr. McChesney acknowledged that the Port staff and Commission haven’t spent a lot of time discussing the idea, but he agreed they should give it some consideration and comment as appropriate. Commissioner Preston observed that, if a lot of parking is eliminated and/or becomes more difficult, people may choose to drive down to Anthony’s or Arnies, instead. He summarized that the restaurant owners like the Walkable Main Street Program, as they are getting free use of the parklets. However, many of the storeowners feel that closing the street has had a negative impact on their businesses. Council Member Olsen added that the program hasn’t been positive for the restaurants and bars beyond the closed area, either.
CONTINUATION OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-03 DECLARING LOCAL EMERGENCY AND DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Mr. McChesney advised that he hasn’t taken any action under the Delegation of Authority granted by Resolution No. 20-03.
PROJECT REPORT: ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING
Mr. McChesney reported that the City of Edmonds is allowing the design and permitting process for the new Administration/Maintenance Building to continue utilizing the previous State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review and Determination of Non-Significance (DNS), as well as the Critical Areas Report that was submitted in 2017. The application submittal deadline was March 26th to be on the Architectural Design Board’s (ADBs) docket in May, and that milestone was achieved. In the meantime, Jackson/Main Architects and the design team have been working to perfect the interior floor plans to maximize efficiency and functionality. He shared a conceptual design for the ground floor, which anticipates approximately 4,124 square feet for the maintenance shop, with an additional 1,820 square for commercial lease space. The use of the commercial space is yet to be determined. He noted that one wing in the maintenance area would have a high bay in order to accommodate the tall masted forklifts and other taller equipment. It is not likely the equipment will be stored in that space, but it will be an advantage to have a covered work area for routine maintenance. The other wing would provide space for general maintenance, as well as offices for the Maintenance Manager and Maintenance Supervisor and a gear locker for parts.
Mr. McChesney also provided a conceptual design for the second floor of the new building, which is anticipated to be approximately 3,000 square feet. While the space is more than what the Port needs for its own use, any rental office space that is provided must be fully self-contained and sequestered from the Port’s operations. However, there can be a common entryway and elevator. Rather than a series of small offices, Mr. McChesney said Port staff would prefer to lease the extra space out as a block. The Port’s office space will include a reception area, Commission meeting room, utility space, restrooms, and a series of offices. He emphasized that the exact floor plans are not final and remain a work in progress to obtain the optimal configuration.
Mr. McChesney summarized that the design will be presented to the ADB in May, and the real change from what was previously approved has to do with fenestration. For example, they don’t need the plate-glass storefront that was contemplated in the previous design. Rather than start from scratch, it was decided it made economic sense to repurpose the original design, which was intended to mimic the Jacobsen’s Marine Building to create a bookend effect with the workyard in between. Once the project is approved by the ADB, the design team can move forward with final design. The project is on track to begin construction by January.
Commissioner Preston asked about the approximate size of the proposed Commission meeting room, and Mr. McChesney responded that it would be slightly larger than the current meeting room. However, it would be configured in a less-awkward fashion and would be upgraded for technology and functionality.
Commissioner Orvis observed that, as proposed, the ground floor of the building would be primarily glass. Mr. McChesney answered that they will be having a discussion with the ADB regarding fenestration and windows. The design is speculative at this stage because they don’t yet know who will occupy the space. He anticipates that a more detailed frontage design will be available for the Commissioners to review at their retreat in May.
Commissioner Orvis said his understanding is that the ADB will only be reviewing the external aspects of the proposed new building, and Mr. McChesney concurred. Commissioner Preston asked if the ADB’s approval could allow enough flexibility for the windows to be altered to meet the needs of a future tenant. Mr. McChesney answered that the ADB has some flexibility in this regard. However, once a project has been approved by the ADB, the flexibility to make changes is more limited.
PROJECT REPORT: NORTH PORTWALK AND SEAWALL RECONSTRUCTION
Ms. Williams provided a brief update on the project, specifically reporting on a kick-off meeting that was held on March 11th where the consultants provided the following updates:
• Landau Associates led a discussion about the environmental aspects of the project, and there was extensive talk about how analyzing and figuring out the flood and high-water elevation will be a key indicator for the project and a determining factor about whether or not the boardwalk will have to be transparent. This needs to be figured out as soon as possible, as it will have a significant impact on design.
• The electrical consultants advised that the current plan is to relocate the utilities behind the seawall, which is different than the current setup. They talked about how this part of the project would impact tenants while the power is turned off. They also provided information about the substation locations and how they will be protected. Makers will use this information as they design the project.
• The current plan for plumbing is to connect the new distribution under the boardwalk and run it out to the existing docks. Instead of a manual system, they will install new valves and an automatic freeze protection system.
• The civil engineer talked more about how determining the material and elevation of the boardwalk will be a key factor for both CG Engineering and Makers. If they raise the boardwalk to a different level than the parking lot, they will need to build proper Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps into the design.
• The structural engineer indicated that the current scope includes repairing the existing steel piles and replacing the bulkhead, sheet pile wall and decking. It was mentioned that this could impact the design of the utilities.
• The architectural update was brief and focused on the boardwalk edge that goes up to the curb, utility access, and different elements.
• A representative who did the survey was also on the call, as well, and was able to answer some questions on the survey he had already submitted to the consultants.
Ms. Williams reported that staff did a walk through with CG Engineering and Makers to discuss how they wanted the current and existing portwalks to tie into each other. They spent a lot of time at the intersection and ramp outside of the Administration Building where it feels congested. The current thought is that the portwalk would be raised about 6 inches and the ramp would be extended out so it is unnoticeable. Staff gave them some ideas about what they have in mind for the gates and bump-out areas, and Makers will come back with three main concepts for consideration at the Commission’s May retreat.
Ms. Williams said the idea is to expand the portwalk to encompass the two-foot marginal strip between the wood and the curb. This area is currently used as if it was part of the portwalk, and the idea is to incorporate the area into the design. One of the concepts that Makers will show is a landscaped area along where the current curb is located. This area could be used to house some of the utilities.
Commissioner Faires recalled that portwalk north of the Administration Building is currently about three feet lower than the portwalk south of the Administration Building, but it is about level with the parking lot. He is interested in learning more details about how high the portwalk north of the Administration Building will be and how it will be tied it into the parking lot. Ms. Williams said Mr. Menard measured from the top of the ramp to the bottom, and the grade change is about 13 inches. Mr. McChesney added that, since the grade change is only 13 inches, the consultant can design for a gradual ramp that is almost imperceptible. While it is a challenge, he is confident it can be overcome.
Commissioner Faires said his understanding is that there would be some vertical difference (about 1 foot) between the level of the parking lot and the level of the north portwalk. He asked how this transition would be addressed. Mr. McChesney said he doesn’t have that answer now, but it will be addressed as part of the design exercise. The Corps of Engineers will identify the required elevation as part of the JARPA Permit.
Ms. Williams advised that CG Engineering reported that they met with Landau Associates last week to discuss structural issues. Landau Associates is continuing field work and will present a preliminary report and information in April. Starting this week, and continuing into next week, CG Engineering will have their civil team on site, and they will start developing initial design concepts in the coming weeks. She reported that CG Engineering has advised that the project is currently running on schedule in all areas. They will present 30% designs to the Port by May 6th, and the Port will do some initial reviews in preparation for the consultant design meeting on May 13th. The plan is to have some initial designs for the Commission’s review at their May retreat, and the bi-monthly meetings will continue.
2021 MARKETING EVENTS AND PROJECTS
Ms. Williams provided an overview of the 2021 Marketing Events and Projects. She highlighted the following:
• The EYC’s Safety Seminars occurred in January, February and March.
• The 2021 Destination Port of Edmonds Program started in January, with changes to highlight some of the takeout options in the area, as well as the outdoor parks.
• A Marina Cleanup Dive with Annie Crawley and her team is scheduled for April 18th. This event won’t draw a huge crowd, but it will be interesting to those who are walking by. A pre-dive will take place prior to the event to identify the focus area. She will be doing another dive in the fall.
• The Spring Public Mailer will be sent out by May 31st. The Communications Committee met a while ago to chart out the topics to include in the mailer. Also in May, the Port will conduct another on-line Spring Environmental Campaign, showcasing some tips for being more environmentally friendly. In addition, the Port’s new website is tentatively scheduled to debut in May.
• They are currently working on the summer music program. Staff feels these events provide a safe way to create some nice ambiance in the Plaza and on the portwalk without drawing too large of a crowd. The hope is to open the opportunity to more than just Sea Jazz students.
• The plaza dedication to Mary Lou Block is tentatively scheduled to occur in August. Perhaps a weekday morning would be good so that staff, Commissioners and City officials can attend. Staff will reach out to her family to confirm a date that works for them, as well.
• The Edmonds Coho Derby is tentatively planned for September 11th.
• The Port will participate in the Edmonds Scarecrow Festival in October, and the Foul Weather Bluff Race is also scheduled in October. In addition, Annie Crawley will be doing a Fall Cleanup Dive.
• The Port’s Holiday Mailer will go out in November, announcing holiday events at the marina.
• Depending on the status of the pandemic, the intent is to do Holiday on the Docks again in December, as well as Christmas Ship Night at the Marina and the Holiday Food Drive.
Commissioner Preston asked if the EYC will be sponsoring any more safety seminars in 2021, and Ms. Williams said she believes the March event was the last one for 2021.
Commissioner Harris asked if a time has been set for the April 18th Marina Cleanup Dive, and Ms. Williams answered no. However, past dives have started at about 9:00 a.m., but it also depends on the tide.
Commissioner Preston announced that the Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA) and Edmonds Downtown Alliance (ED) are planning art walk events with musicians playing non-amplified music. He cautioned staff to keep these events in mind as they schedule Port activities for the summer. Council Member Olsen added that, currently, the art walk events will take place on Saturdays as part of the Walkable Main Street Program.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission will have a retreat sometime the week of May 10th, preferably on May 11th, 12th or 13th. He said he would contact the EYC to schedule a meeting room so that the retreat can be held in person while maintaining social distance. He invited the Commissioners to review their calendars and provide feedback to staff on which dates might work best for them.
Commissioner Faires observed that there may be some discussion at the retreat relative to the design of the north boardwalk, which might be more difficult if the retreat and the ADB’s review of the project design occur at very nearly the same time. Mr. McChesney agreed this could create a conflict. Once they know the date of the ADB review, it may be necessary to adjust the date of the Commission’s retreat.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Faires reported that the Edmonds Economic Development Commission met on March 17th. However, he was unable to participate because the information that was provided for the Zoom meeting didn’t work.
Commissioner Preston reported that he attended a virtual meeting of the Downtown Edmonds Merchant’s Association (DEMA) where there was discussion about the Walkable Main Street Program and the art walk/music events.
Commissioner Preston advised that, at the EYC’s March safety meeting, he learned about some phenomenal apps that provide great detail about weather and tides.
Commissioner Johnston reported that he participated in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chat related to transportation and infrastructure, and he plans to attend the chat on March 30th on export resources, too. He also attended a Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) meeting where Senators Hobbs and King were present to talk about transportation projects and funding. As per the discussion, money is tight, as always, and a lot of transportation projects are up in the air. The $3 to $4 billion obligation for culvert replacement will put a big dent in the funding that is available.
Commissioner Orvis announced that he also attended the WPPA meeting and the EASC Coffee Chat regarding transportation. Currently, the legislature is stalled as things go to committees and committee chairs decide what they will be doing. A variety of carbon tax options are being considered, as well as other methods for funding transportation projects and lowering carbon emissions. The discussion isn’t so much about increased fuel costs, but about whether the money will be used for transportation or siphoned off into the general fund for other things. In his mind, the legislators are dancing around each other trying to figure out how to get the votes to make even one of the options work. Low carbon fuel standards have not proven to be very effective in reducing carbon, and there is a lot of fear that, given the environmental proclivity to not build anything new that requires fuel, they will likely follow the money out of state as they purchase the additives needed to meet the new requirements.
Commissioner Orvis continued his legislative report, noting that broadband is very important. The commercial entities that want to have a lock on expanding fiber optic options are starting to be more interested in moving forward. They are seeing now that it might just happen as ports and public utility districts start laying fiber optics and retailing it.
Commissioner Faires asked if the private entities are still vehemently opposed to public broadband access, or are they backing off and coming up with a plan? Commissioner Orvis answered that they don’t have a plan. They don’t want competition, and they are afraid it will start happening in areas that they are interested in. Currently, legislators are under pressure from not just rural areas, but also some urban areas on the east side that don’t have the broadband capability needed to expand. The legislature is now in a position where they foresee the needed votes to expand broadband.
Commissioner Orvis said he foresees that taxes will increase moving forward. The Capital Gains Tax seems to be a go to see if the Supreme Court will allow the Legislature to encroach on the income tax prohibition in the State Constitution. Everyone generally agrees that a capital gains tax is an income tax.
Commissioner Harris said she has also attended some of the EASC’s Coffee Chats, as well as some WPPA virtual meetings. She has been trying to become more engaged with the WPPA from an environmental standpoint. She believes that some of the things the Port has done related to the environment could be beneficial to other ports, such as the Integrated Pest Management Plan. She also felt the Port of Edmonds could learn from what other ports are doing.
Commissioner Orvis cautioned that they have a very well-run port with a comfortable environment, and they have the expertise and ability to weigh in on things that are terribly important to other ports. It is good for them to do that, and they should probably do it more than they currently do.
Commissioner Johnston reported that it appears that the Model Toxic Control Act is well funded, and the money will all be allocated in the right direction towards cleanup.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
Steve Johnston, Port Commission Secretary