12 Jul Commission Meeting Minutes 6-13-22
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Hybrid Meeting) June 13, 2022
David Preston, President
Steve Johnston, Vice President
Jim Orvis, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
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 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 MAY 31, 2022 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $196,220.53
D. PUGET SOUND EXPRESS 5-YEAR OPERATING AGREEMENT
COMMISSIONER GRANT SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Pete Hanke, Puget Sound Express (PSE), announced that PSE has a new boat coming on line. The new Swift Sure is four feet longer than the current Saratoga, and is scheduled to launch on July 7th. Following about 12 days of sea trials and tuning up, it will begin operating out of the Edmonds Marina on about July 22nd. He advised that the Saratoga, which currently has about 4,800 hours, will be moved to PSE’s Port Townsend location. He reviewed that both boats are licensed to carry 149 passengers, and there will be enough inside seating space on the Swift Sure for all passengers.
Commissioner Grant asked if PSE is aware of the new law that requires vessels to stay further away from the Orcas. Mr. Hanke answered yes. He explained that there are two groups of Orcas, Southern Resident and Transient, and the new law relates to the Resident Orcas. Resident Orcas have changed their habits, traveling to the west coast of Vancouver Island in search of larger and more plentiful salmon. In any given year, their vessels will encounter Resident Orcas about 12 times. They will encounter Transient Orcas 300 to 500 times and in a much larger geographic area. The viewing distance for Transient Orcas remains the same at 200 yards. For the most part, PSE vessels avoid Resident Orcas because its too much hassle to try and judge the right distance, right time of year and right time of day to view them.
Mr. Hanke commented that anything the Port can do to help with fuel prices would be much appreciated. Off-road, dyed diesel is supposed to be less costly than road diesel, but the fuel distributors are currently charging more for off-road diesel, which is not subject to federal tax. Currently, the Port’s diesel price is $6.68 per gallon and upland prices average about $6.09.
Mr. Hanke said he is very pleased with the new five-year operating agreement, and he appreciates all that Port staff and the Commission have done to support their operations. He said he is looking forward to many years of operating out of the Port of Edmonds.
Commissioner Preston asked if Mr. Hanke has received any feedback on the positive impact PSE has had on local businesses. Mr. Hanke said he couldn’t answer that question specifically. However, PSE has purchased a lot of food from the local sandwich shop to serve on their vessel, and they have provided a high-quality product.
Andor Boeck, Edmonds Yacht Club (EYC), said he is looking forward to the Port’s upcoming presentation to the club on the North Portwalk and Seawall Design. Mr. McChesney said that he and Ms. Williams met with the EYC’s event coordinator and maintenance facility person to provide a general overview of the project. From a planning perspective, the EYC is concerned about the project’s schedule, as their facility is typically booked out up to 18 months. He has agreed to stay in close communication with them to ensure that expectations are managed effectively and disruptions are minimized as much as possible. Mr. Boeck agreed that timing is a big concern for the EYC. He understands that this is a complex project to manage and the Port doesn’t have all of the answers yet. However, as they book their facility for future events, they will need to notify people of potential disruptions. Mr. McChesney said the Port’s goal is to mitigate impacts and not cause any interruptions in the EYC’s business activity, but they won’t know exactly how that will work out until they have a contract schedule.
Commissioner Preston reported that he attended the EYC’s last general membership meeting and advised that the disruption in front of the EYC would likely occur during the winter months versus summer months when there is typically more outdoor activity. Mr. Boeck agreed to work with Mr. McChesney to schedule the Port’s presentation at a general membership meeting. He noted that if it doesn’t occur at the June 28th meeting due to the scheduled “Change of Watch,” the next general membership meeting won’t be until September.
NEW ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING UPDATE
Mr. McChesney reviewed that, as previously discussed at the last Commission meeting, the City has provided a “Notice of Readiness” that the Port’s building permit has been approved subject to payment of fees and with the stipulation that the Port is required to provide a Performance Bond for specified contract installations connected to the City’s infrastructure (landscaping, water/sewer, meters, etc.).
At the Commission’s request, Mr. McChesney reported that he approached the City with a request that the bond requirement be waived. He advised the City that the requirement would be redundant and duplicative without adding any value. City staff took the matter under advisement, and after further research, they found a new RCW citation that allowed them to waive the performance bond. He summarized that the outcome reflects well on the good relationship the Port has with the City of Edmonds staff, and the recent decision will save the Port several thousand dollars and some headaches.
Commissioner Orvis pointed out that, as per the RCW, a bond requirement for government-to-government projects is against the law and resolving the issue will bode well for the much larger North Portwalk and Seawall Project, too. Again, Mr. McChesney thanked City staff for taking the Port’s request under advisement and helping them find resolution.
SEA NOTES AT THE MARINA
Ms. Williams reviewed that Sea Jazz was created in the summer of 2012, with the debut performance taking place at the Port of Edmonds Public Plaza on July 1, 2012. For nine years, the program featured local high school jazz musicians twice weekly throughout the summer months. This year, to accommodate for the growth of the music offering, the program has been rebranded to now be called Sea Notes at the Marina.
Ms. Williams announced that, kicking off on June 17th, Sea Notes will feature performances of various musical genres throughout the week. Student jazz musicians will still be featured during the weekdays, but there will be guitar and singer/songwriter performances on the weekends. Like last year, Friday nights will be reserved for jazz jam sessions hosted by various local professionals. In addition, some select special performances will be offered this year, including Steel Magic Northwest on August 26th and the Edmonds School District Honor Jazz Band on August 28th. She noted that an updated performance schedule can be found at www.portofedmonds.org/nws/edmonds-events/. Posters for Sea Notes will be displayed throughout Port property and downtown Edmonds, and advertisements will run on My Edmonds News, the Edmonds Beacon and on Facebook.
Ms. Williams summarized that, with Sea Notes, the Port is proud to provide both local jazz students and musical professionals with a beautiful waterfront performance venue. Anthony’s Restaurant is returning as a program sponsor and will provide all musicians with a complimentary meal voucher. Jazz Colony is a program partner, as well. Led by Peter Bennett and Jake Bergevin, Jazz Colony has provided comprehensive program coordination service. The 2022 budget for Sea Jazz ($3,000) will be used towards advertisement and program coordination services for Sea Notes.
Commissioner Grant suggested it would be good if someone from the Port could start each of the programs off by introducing the musicians. Mr. McChesney agreed that would be good.
Commissioner Orvis noted that, for two years during the pandemic, the high school students didn’t have an opportunity to play together with their group. Those in the Edmonds School District have done a terrific job of bringing the music program back to life. He is glad that the Port is supporting their efforts, and they should encourage people they know to support it, as well. The Commissioners briefly reviewed the history of the Sea Jazz Program, particularly thanking Peter Bennet for his help with scheduling and coordination since 2019.
COMMISSION MEETINGS FORWARD SCHEDULE
Mr. McChesney announced that the Port would open bids for the New Administration/Maintenance Building on Friday, June 17th, at 10 a.m. In order for the project to stay on schedule, he proposed that the Commission hold a special meeting for Tuesday, June 21st, at 3:30 p.m. to review the bid results and ask for Commission authorization to award the contract. To avoid having three Commission meetings in June, and without any pressing action items requiring Commission approval in the weeks following the contract award, he further proposed that the Commission’s regular meeting on June 27th be cancelled. Following the contract award, and with a contractor ready to start, he proposed that the Commission’s regular meeting on July 11th be scheduled as a “Golden Shovel” event on the job site. Unless other important information or action items come up, the July 25th meeting will be at 9 a.m. for accounts payable approval, a special meeting by definition because of the time change.
Commissioner Orvis asked where the lay-down area for the Administration/Maintenance Building Project will be located. Mr. McChesney answered that it will be largely contained on site, as well as to the south where Anthony’s recycle area is located.
The Commissioners agreed with the proposed meeting schedule as outlined above by Mr. McChesney.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Councilmember Tibbott reported that the City is starting work on the Comprehensive Plan update, which is due in 2024. In preparation for that work, the City engaged the services of Makers Architecture to complete a waterfront study. The study was ready for presentation to the City Council on June 7th, but it was postponed until June 21st. He agreed to provide a copy of the report to the Port, noting that Section 10 references the Port’s bulkhead and provides a map showing its location. It also references the new Administration/Maintenance Building and recognizes that, based on initial studies, the parking structure project will not proceed. However, the report does not mention the new public amenities that will be provided as part of the North Portwalk and Seawall Project. He said he would raise this concern and make sure that the public amenities included in the project are added to the report. Mr. McChesney pointed out that the consultant should have had this information, since they are designing the Port’s project, as well.
Councilmember Tibbott shared that a goal in the Economic Development Element of the Comprehensive Plan calls for the City to continue to “partner with business leaders, organizations and community members, such as the Port of Edmonds, Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, etc. to leverage business opportunities and to solicit and address feedback to enhance the business environment.” He also referred to the introduction of the Waterfront Study, which identifies four top preliminary recommendations:
• Create a new vision for the waterfront. It will be important for the City to include the Port of Edmonds in these discussions.
• Recognize and support the current location of the Edmonds Ferry Terminal. There is a movement away from the multimodal idea and support for the current location.
• Prioritize Edmonds Marsh and Willow Creek restoration. This is a complex and comprehensive project.
• Plan for improved emergency management of the waterfront. There is no mention of the connector, but there is mention of the problem.
Commissioner Orvis reviewed that the multimodal center, as it was originally envisioned at the south end, is no longer part of the plan. However, Brackett’s Landing is still a multimodal station area, with a railroad station, a significant bus stop, and a major ferry landing within a 100-yard radius. He recalled the state requirement that development should be concentrated in the vicinity of multimodal facilities and suggested that the City needs to consider the implications of that requirement as the legislature moves forward with the allocation of transportation funding.
Councilmember Tibbott agreed that it begs the question of how to manage the people and vehicle flow around that hub. The nexus is rather crowded already and the additional third ferry, second train line, and the traffic coming down to the waterfront will likely double the traffic. Commissioner Orvis noted that the Edmonds Ferry has the highest vehicular traffic numbers in the state. Councilmember Tibbott said it would be helpful to him if Commissioner Orvis could cite a source for that information. Commissioner Grant noted that the statistics can be found on the Washington State Ferries website.
Councilmember Tibbott said he heard that it was also the second highest volume ferry traffic in the nation, with the first being the Stanton Island Ferry. Commissioner Grant noted that Washington State has the second largest ferry system in the world.
Commissioner Preston asked if the Waterfront Study primarily focuses on the commercial areas along the waterfront. Councilmember Tibbott said the study covers all of the area south of the marina all the way to the marine sanctuary that is just north of Brackett’s Landing. Commissioner Grant said the boundaries are defined in the study. Mr. McChesney pointed out that most of the remaining waterfront is made up of critical areas where there will be very little opportunity for change.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney didn’t have any other items to report.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Johnston said he was asked to be part of the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Dues Review Committee to ascertain whether ports are getting their money’s worth and how the dues might be structured going forward. There will be three meetings, with the first in the next week or so. The committee will consist of eight commissioners and executive directors, representing both large and small ports.
Commissioner Harris said she reached out to the WPPA about the potential of restarting the communications committee. She heard back today that they haven’t been able to find anything regarding a charter for the previous committee. They will continue to explore the idea and get back to her.
Commissioner Harris said she reviewed the agenda for the WPPA Commissioners Meeting in July. While she won’t be able to attend, they have a good lineup of topics. Commissioner Preston said there is still one agenda slot open, and he suggested they do a cyber presentation. While he recognized that establishing an agenda is time consuming, Commissioner Johnston said he would like to see a bigger variety of presenters, rather than the same companies and attorneys all the time.
Commissioner Orvis referred to a recent meeting where Housing Hope of Snohomish County unveiled new plans to partner with the Edmonds Lutheran Church to build 58 units of low-cost housing on property next to the church. While the units will be offered at less than market rate, they will produce enough revenue to make a profit so it isn’t a tax hazard.
Commissioner Orvis reported that he attended the WPPA’s Compass Award event where Representative Tharinger emphasized the need for local governments to start applying for funding as soon as possible. They expect the next biennium will be robust, so now is a good time for the Port to request money for the seawall project. Mr. McChesney reported that Ms. Williams recently presented a proposal to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for an Aquatic Lands Enhancement grant.
Commissioner Grant said he has been reviewing potential grant opportunities. He referred to a press release from United States Representative Larsen about all of the money he got for his district. Unfortunately, the Port is not located within his district, and apparently, the money has all been allocated. However, although the proposed allocations have been passed by the House, they have not been passed by the Senate. He said he will be working with Representative Larsen, Senator Cantwell, the Chair of the Commerce Committee, and Senator Murray to possibly get the allocations amended.
Commissioner Grant announced that he and Mr. McChesney would provide a walking tour to Paul Roberts, Chair of the Washington State Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as Ryan Casey, the District Director. Along with the tour, staff will make a brief presentation and provide lunch. Commissioner Grant said the intent is to push from the other side to potentially get an amendment to the transportation allocations. He said he will work with staff to identify grant opportunities that match up with the Port’s needs, and he already has identified some potential grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Commissioner Grant said he has also had discussions with representatives from the WPPA on information sharing and cybersecurity. The Port of Vancouver has four people in their IT Department, and one, Chris Carter, is an Information Security Analyst. He is also part of some Information Security Alliance Committees (ISACs), which are formal information programs under the direction of the Federal Government. He had a lengthy conversation with him, and he provided information that has been presented previously. He sent an email to Jessica Wilson, WPPA Communications Manager, regarding a potential smaller meeting first. They have also put together a form that will data mine all of the ports. Apparently, the WPPA doesn’t currently know who’s in charge of Information Technology (IT), security or emergency management at the different ports. There are some ways of doing information sharing, as well as some shared resources. The intent is to eventually have a meeting in Olympia for IT representatives from all of the ports. Some ports are very well seasoned in this area, but others have almost no one on staff and are using outside counsel. There is a need to provide clear information regarding the various rules and procedures.
Commissioner Grant reported that he watches the Edmonds City Council Meetings via Zoom. Two meeting ago, he made some bold statements regarding the need to include the Port of Edmonds in discussions related to the waterfront. Unfortunately, presentation of the Waterfront Study has been postponed twice. Once the Waterfront Study has been presented to the City Council, it will go back before the Planning Board for discussion.
Commissioner Grant reported that he attended a 2-day Shoreline Master Program Seminar where he asked some very specific questions regarding shoreline permitting and flooding. When he talked about daylighting Willow Creek, the experts thought it would be near impossible to do a daylight on a creek that is on the water. In particular, Snohomish County has adopted certain rules that would impact this project. Councilmember Tibbott commented that the information Commissioner Grant received at the seminar regarding Willow Creek doesn’t make sense because he knows of other creeks in the City that flowed through culverts and are now daylighted.
Commissioner Grant continued that a lot of information was shared at the seminar about climate resilience and a number of new permitting requirements. They discussed that obtaining required Federal permits is time consuming, even for projects that are imperative. He said he would prepare a summary report on issues that might impact the Port.
Commissioner Grant said he met with Joe McIalwain, Executive Director of the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA), which is a special district. He took the opportunity to talk about fiber because they are the hub and the backup for the City’s dark fiber. They also discussed the waterfront and emergency management, as well as some grant opportunities they are looking into.
Commissioner Preston reported that he attended the WPPA Financial Seminar last week. Janea Stark from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) announced that a lot of CERB funding is available. Commissioner Johnston pointed out that, typically, the rural areas benefit from CERB funding, and Commissioner Orvis said she indicated that urban projects are becoming more eligible for CERB funding.
Commissioner Preston said he learned at the seminar that some ports have had success with technology to improve the job screening process. Employees use one-way video interview request that is used to pre-screen candidates before an in person interview. It can entice people by showing the culture rather than just by a written job description. Mr. McChesney said the Port hasn’t used videos as a recruitment tool, but he agreed it is a good idea. Commissioner Preston continued by reporting that representatives from the State Auditor’s Office were present and seemed pleased to be working with ports. They provided a lot of good information, noting that there are a number of resource guides available at no cost to ports. There was a presentation on IT, in general, but he felt that more information should have been provided from a training standpoint.
Commissioner Preston reported that he also spoke with Patsy Martin, WPPA Interim Executive Director about the possibility of revamping the Communications Committee. He pointed out how the WPPA needs a plan for communicating to the ports, to the public, and to the legislature. In addition, they need to build a model that ports can use to communicate to the public.
Commissioner Preston asked if staff had an opportunity to talk to Anthony’s about potentially moving their food truck to the plaza during the Sea Note events. Mr. Baker answered affirmatively, but they weren’t able to make it work this year, likely because they are short on staff. He said Anthony’s is trying to develop a way for people listening to the music to order food and get it delivered to them at the plaza. He suggested they promote on-line ordering and using pings to notify people when their food is ready for pick up. Commissioner Preston noted that Anthony’s is a strong supporter of the event, and he would like to make it easy for people to order food while enjoying the concerts. However, from an economic development and tourism standpoint, he would like to see at least one other food truck down there to create more of a mingling atmosphere.
ADDITIONAL PUBLIC COMMENT
Brett Tubby, Edmonds, voiced concern about moorage rates, noting that a 28-foot slip at the Port of Everett is about $100 less than the over $400 the Port of Edmonds charges. He questioned why the sublease fee is recurring and why it increased from $30 two years ago to $40 now. He commented that the Dry Stack fee is too much to only allow seven complimentary launches a month. He is also concerned that it now costs $47 to launch his boat. He lives in Edmonds and would rather be at the Edmonds Marina, but he is concerned that the costs continue to increase. Commissioner Preston asked Mr. Baker to follow up with Mr. Tubby.
At 8:21 p.m., Commissioner Preston announced that the Commission would move into an executive session pursuant to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.30.110(1)(i) to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency matters relating to agency enforcement actions, or to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency litigation or potential litigation to which the agency, the governing body, or a member acting in an official capacity is, or is likely to become, a party, when public knowledge regarding the discussion is likely to result in an adverse legal or financial consequence to the agency.
Commissioner Preston advised that the executive session would last approximately 20 minutes. Following the executive session, the Commission would resume the business portion of the meeting. No action would be taken during the executive session. The executive session ended at 8:40 p.m., and the Commission returned to the regular meeting.
ADDITIONAL COMMISSION COMMENTS
Commissioner Grant said he has talked to a lot of people in an effort to ascertain who owns the Edmonds Marsh. He learned about a 1981 quit claim deed from Union Oil to the City of Edmonds that outlines the property boundaries and designates that it remain a wetland and recreation area. Mr. McChesney clarified that the quit claim deed only applies to the southeast quadrant of the marsh. Commissioner Grant explained that most aquatic lands are divided between shore owners, and it would be interesting for the Port to hire someone to help interpret the marsh map. It was pointed out that they have documentation identifying the portion of the marsh that is owned by the Port.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:44 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary