04 Jun Special Retreat Comm. Meeting Minutes 5-12-21
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS
MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING AND STAFF RETREAT
(In Person and Via Zoom) May 12, 2021
Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Brian Menard, Facilities Maintenance Manager
Karin Michaud, Office Manager
Travis Cruz, Maintenance Supervisor
Renae Ebel, Administrative Assistant
Carl Orsi, Moorage, Office & Customer Service Supervisor
CALL TO ORDER
President Harris 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 FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
There were no public comments.
Mr. McChesney observed that this is the first time in over a year that all of the Commissioners have been present in the same room. He advised that there are a number of items to discuss and several consultants have been invited to share information on the Port’s two large projects: North Portwalk and Seawall and Administration/Maintenance Building.
NORTH PORTWALK/SEAWALL PROJECT
Mr. McChesney introduced Chevy Chase and Dennis Titus from CG Engineering, who were present to discuss the North Portwalk and Seawall Project.
Project Overview (CG Engineering)
Dennis Titus, CG Engineering, shared information about CG Engineering, a local firm located in downtown Edmonds that specializes in civil and structural engineering and planning. He also shared his professional background information.
Mr. Titus advised that the North Portwalk Replacement Project is complicated, and requires a specialized team of consultants. CG Engineering will be the design team lead and handle the civil and structural design, and Makers Architecture and Urban Design will be handling the architectural design and public access plan. Landau Associates will do the geotechnical study and soils assessment, as well as the environmental study and permit coordination. The Harris Group will handle the plumbing design, and Harbor Power will handle the electrical design.
Mr. Titus advised that the north portwalk is approximately 950 feet long and 13,000 square feet. It runs from Arnies all the way to the current Administration Building. The Port originally contacted CG Engineering to assess the structure to see if the surface could be replaced. As part of this work, a fairly extensive assessment of the framing and substructure was done and some deficiencies were found. This led to the repair and replacement plan that is currently in progress, and the intent is to present 30%, 60% and 90% submittals for the Port to review along the way.
Commissioner Faires noted that, thus far, everything has been predicated on the permitting process being the critical path. He asked Mr. Titus for an estimate as to when the north portwalk would need to be replaced. Mr. Titus estimated it would be 5 to 10 years before there are significant problems. The goal is to be preventative and address the situation before it becomes a safety issue.
Mr. Titus explained that, based on the damage found, CG Engineering didn’t see a way to adequately repair the bulkhead. Therefore, the design will include replacing the damaged upper bulkhead, repairing the existing steel piles, replacing creosoted timber piles, the surface and handrails. It will also include replacing and upgrading the water and electrical systems serving the floating moorage and upgrading the lighting along the portwalk and in the parking area.
Schedule (CG Engineering)
Mr. Titus reviewed that following the assessment in May 2020, CG Engineering advised that major repair work needed to be done. After discussions with Port staff, a decision was made to put together a team and start the design process in November 2020. The project is currently at 30% design, and the next step will be to submit an application to the City for the Substantial Shoreline Development Permit. Once the project reaches 60% design in August 2021, CG Engineering will submit a permit application to the Corps of Engineers. It is anticipated this permit process will be lengthy, and comments, questions and possible changes to the design will likely come up. All of these changes will be incorporated into the 90% design and then a development application will be submitted to the City of Edmonds for review and approval. It is anticipated that construction can start in May of 2023, depending on permitting. He reminded them that in-water work is limited to July through February. Preston requested more information about how the “fish window” is determined, and Mr. Titus answered that it is dependent on when the endangered species are migrating in Puget Sound.
Seawall Structural Issues (CG Engineering)
Commissioner Faires commented that, not only is he concerned about the decisions that have been made and are yet to be made with regard to materials and aesthetics, he is also concerned about costs. He suggested that the decisions related to the two alternatives presented by the consultant will likely be based on the cost and longevity of the structure. Mr. Titus explained that a lot of the existing structure is timber frame. In a marine environment, timber has a lifespan of about 30 years, at best. As currently designed, the new structure would be steel, and the decking material would be either concrete or steel, all of which have a much longer lifespan than timber.
Mr. Titus shared pictures and provided a general overview of the existing portwalk structure, noting that most of the concern is related to the timber piles and framing. The timber piles were installed in 1968 and are at the end of their life. The steel piles were upgraded in the mid-90s when the marina was reconstructed. The timber decking was originally installed in 1996 and is weathered and cracked and reaching the end of its operational life. Some of the decking has been replaced and is in much better condition. Staff has indicated that more and more boards need to be replaced every year. If nothing is done, they will get to a point where a substantial number of them will need to be replaced at the same time.
Mr. Titus also shared pictures and described the general condition of the existing upper timber bulkhead and piles. He noted areas of obvious rot, decay and degradation of the timber piles. While some of them appear to be intact, areas of rot were found in all of them. Not only do the piles support the deck framing, they also retain the soil above it.
Commissioner Faires asked if there has been any depression in the parking lot area as a result of the soil moving west. Mr. Titus answered that there are minor signs that is starting to happen, but there are no major issues at this time. As the wall moves and pushes out on the piles, it will cause a depression on the backside, and they will start to see cracking in the asphalt and gaps between the asphalt and the timber framing.
Next, Mr. Titus shared pictures and provided a general overview of the lower, concrete bulkhead that is supported by a pair of steel piles. He advised that, while there are no issues with the bulkhead, itself, some rust and delamination was found in the piles. The vertical pile has maintained its structure integrity, but the batter pile is severely corroded and has lost about half of its structural integrity. Commissioner Faires asked Mr. Titus to explain why the vertical pile is in good shape, but the batter pile is severely corroded. Mr. Titus responded that there is no structural reason why one should be worse than the other. The only reason he can think of is that the galvanization on the batter piles was not done properly or as well as the vertical piles.
Lastly, Mr. Titus shared pictures and described the condition of the gangways, which are aluminum and supported by the portwalk. Generally, they are all in good conditions, and there are no plans to change them regardless of the alternative that is selected.
Commissioner Faires asked about the lifespan of the existing lower bulkhead. Mr. Titus responded that there are no issues and he does not foresee that it will need to be replaced as part of the project.
Design, Cost and Construction Constructability (CG Engineering)
Mr. Titus provided a drawing to illustrate the proposed plan, specifically noting the following:
• The deck surface and handrails will be replaced, and one option is to raise the deck surface up 6 inches above the asphalt parking area, which would be approximately the elevation of the existing yellow curb. Raising it would provide some permitting benefits, and it would allow for a better separation between the walking surface and the driving area.
• The upper bulkhead will be replaced with a sheet pile wall behind the existing timber bulkhead. A new concrete cap will be added along the top, as well.
Commissioner Faires asked if there would be any issues with moisture accumulating under the cement next to the sheet pile. Mr. Titus answered no and added that drainage will collect the groundwater behind the pile cap.
• New anchors will be required for the sheet pile wall. While the current anchors are in good condition, they do not meet the requirements of the current building code.
Mr. McChesney pointed out there is an accessibility issue with the existing anchors. With structures built on top of the dead man, the existing tiebacks will be abandoned in place. He asked what type of tieback system is proposed. Mr. Titus answered that they would be grouted tiebacks that are drilled in underneath the parking lot and structures, and they won’t disrupt anything or conflict with utilities behind the bulkhead. Landau Associates has found that several feet of the upper area is liquefiable, so they will need to make sure the anchors are at a steep angle and get down to the soil below. Two or three feet of the asphalt behind the bulkhead will need to be replaced to provide access to pour the new concrete, and there will be some impact from the utilities. However, he doesn’t anticipate that the parking lot will be significantly impacted.
• The steel batter piles will be repaired in place. While part of the design is still to be determined, the plan is to replace the corroded sections with new steel sections. The other option is to weld a new sleeve around it. They are working with contractors to figure out which option is more economical and buildable.
Commissioner Preston observed that the high-tide elevation is right at the portwalk level. Mr. Titus explained that the Army Corps of Engineers calls the high tideline at 12’3”. One option is to raise the portwalk 6 inches, which allows for a separation between the portwalk and the drive aisle, but it won’t be so high that it requires steps. Normally, code would require a structure to be 3 feet above the 12’3” elevation, but there are exceptions for certain structures that can be below. Commissioner Orvis noted that, with a high tide and a strong northwesterly wind, they must assume there will be water up to the portwalk. Mr. Titus said the portwalk will be designed with the assumption that it will get wet.
Commissioner Faires observed that a few years ago, the City implemented a requirement in other zoning areas that the baseline elevation be raised two feet to address the anticipated sea-level rise. He asked if that requirement would apply to this project, as well. Mr. Titus answered no, as long as the structure is designed for contact with water and it is not a habitable structure. They can review anticipated future sea level rise and options for raising the portwalk even more, but they must also take into account accessibility. Commissioner Faires commented that raising the portwalk more than 6 inches would require additional steps to separate it from the parking lot. Mr. Titus added that it would also require that the gangways be lengthened. He noted that Makers will present two options, one where the portwalk is higher and another where it is the same elevation.
• The lower bulkhead will remain in place, and the existing gangways will be reused.
• All of the existing electrical elements that are currently located under the portwalk will be replaced, and new lighting will be added to the portwalk and parking lot. The parking lot will be upgraded to adjustable LED lights. The pedestals for the floating moorage will also be upgraded with GFI connections, and the transformer will be relocated, as well. There are currently issues with some of the vessels tripping the GFIs, and the code requires that they be upgraded as part of the project.
Mr. McChesney asked if the feeders and taps would also be upgraded, and Chevy Chase, CG Engineering, answered that it is not included in the proposal. He suggested they have a discussion as to what docks they want to upgrade, and then a cost analysis can be prepared. Perhaps it makes sense to upgrade service on P Dock, but they may not gain anything by providing upgraded service on the other docks. Commissioner Orvis suggested that they should at least put the capability at the head of each dock to upgrade to 50-amp power at some point in the future. The remainder of the Commissioners concurred. Mr. Menard emphasized that the current configuration is only wired for 30-amp service, so the entire dock will have to be rewired to accommodate 50-amp service. The transformers will also need to be upsized. The transformers and switch gear needed for a later upgrade can be put in place as part of the project, but it will drive up the cost significantly. He suggested they carefully consider which docks it would make sense for. Mr. Titus agreed to talk through the options with Harbor Power to determine what is doable at this point without getting into the docks.
• The plumbing under the boardwalk will be replaced, but the services will remain in place. They are planning to add freeze protection valves at the end of each dock that will automatically open at 35 degrees. Shut-offs will also be added at the end of each dock.
Mr. McChesney asked if fire protection has been considered. Mr. Titus answered no and observed that there are already fire hydrants along the portwalk. Mr. McChesney suggested that the existing system should be assessed to make sure it is adequate and code compliant.
Mr. Titus advised that the plan is to replace the upper bulkhead all the way to the north breakwater, which means they have to work past the fishing pier, which is currently owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and managed by the City of Edmonds. Both are supportive of the project, but they want to review the plans and coordinate timing. As they get further into design, the 60% and 90% designs will be submitted to them for review and comment. Commissioner Orvis said he thought when the fishing pier was rebuilt, the City of Edmonds requested an ownership transfer from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mr. Titus reported that this hasn’t occurred yet, and the City doesn’t anticipate it will happen any time soon.
Mr. Titus said another major concern is how to maintain access to the floating moorage during construction. In addition, a lot of the Edmonds Yacht Club’s income comes from renting out their space, including their outdoor area, and having access to the portwalk. They have prepared a preliminary phasing plan, showing that construction would be completed in seven different phases. The intent is to do only a portion of the project at a time, and only disrupt the access to one of the floating moorage areas at a time. While obstructed, a temporary loading dock would be placed between the two floating moorage areas to maintain access. Commissioner Faires asked the anticipated duration of each of the phases, and Mr. Titus said the project design isn’t far enough along to make that guess. They will likely give the contractors a timeline for how long they can keep an area disrupted or obstructed. In addition to maintaining access, he cautioned that they must also be careful not to make the project so difficult to construct that it raises the cost. He said his best guess, at this time, would be close to a month at each location. To address the Edmonds Yacht Club’s concern, the intent is to do the entire area all at once and as quickly as possible.
Mr. Titus advised that they will need to maintain water service throughout construction. He has had discussions with staff about how long it would be okay for tenants to be without power and water service, and the general consensus is 24 to 48 hours. Anything beyond that would require that temporary service be provided.
Mr. Titus advised that power is currently served from two locations, including the existing Administration Building, which is scheduled to be demolished before the portwalk project reaches that location. They will need to coordinate leaving the service in place after the building is demolished. Mr. Menard commented that the electrical and water systems that service the docks are in the same location.
Mr. Titus presented the feasibility budget, which is based on 30% design. He emphasized that several parts of the project haven’t been detailed out yet, but they tried to capture everything that would be involved with the project. The majority of the difference between the two options is the deck surface, which Makers will discuss later in the meeting. He advised that, as they move through the design process, the numbers will tighten up. The numbers are based on today’s construction costs, and he expects that the cost of materials will come down and normalize by the time construction starts. The Commissioners indicated they all had concerns about construction costs, and Mr. Titus said that a full breakdown of all of the costs will be submitted for review as part of the 30% design.
Commissioner Faires said he is concerned about the interface between the east side of the north portwalk and the parking lot. The current design indicates there will be a 6-inch curb. He recognized there are other areas along the existing portwalk where the 6-inch curb is in place now. He asked if there are any issues relative to permitting or safety due to the portwalk being higher than the parking lot. Mr. Titus said they will be required to provide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access at intervals along the portwalk and near the gangways, and this requirement has been factored into the plan. He reminded them that, currently, two options are being considered. One would raise the portwalk 6 inches and the other would leave it at its current elevation. Either option would be acceptable and the cost would be the same. It’s a matter of what makes most sense for the Port.
Commissioner Faires noted there is a ramp near the current Administration Building. He asked if the ramp configuration is independent of whatever choice is made regarding height. Mr. Titus answered that the ramp is 11 to 12 inches higher than the lower portwalk. If the portwalk is raised 6 inches, they will still need to make up 6 or 7 inches in this location. Currently, the ramp is steep, and the plan is to make it longer so that the height difference is unnoticeable. However, if the portwalk remains at its current elevation, the ramp could not be extended enough to compensate for the height difference.
Mr. McChesney said his general assumption is that all of the work will have to be done from the land side, as it would be very difficult to bring in the necessary equipment to do the work from the water side. Mr. Titus agreed that nearly all of the work would be done from the land side. Only the steel pile work will need to be done from the water.
Mr. McChesney pointed out that there isn’t currently any cathodic protection for the steel piling. He asked if that should be considered as part of the project. Mr. Titus responded that the batter pile is in the splash zone, and cathodic protection works best where it is continuously submerged. He expressed his belief that cathodic protection would not be cost effective. Mr. McChesney asked if there are other options for protecting the steel piles. Mr. Titus said the best option would be to replace some of the steel sections with galvanized materials. He said he expects the piles to be in better condition once you get below the soil interface.
Commissioner Faires asked if everything in the current design would meet the 50-year minimum lifespan requirement, and Mr. Titus answered affirmatively.
Chair Harris announced that the Commission would take a 15-minute break at 10:15 a.m., during which no Port business would be discussed. The retreat was reconvened at 10:30 a.m.
PUBLIC ACCESS PLAN – CONTEXT/GOALS (Makers)
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Port’s Public Access Plan was updated almost two years ago, and representatives from Makers Architecture and Urban Design were present to discuss the plan and its implementation.
Stefani Wildhaber, Makers Architecture and Urban Design, shared background information about the company and recalled that they were involved with the 1996-1997 Marina Reconstruction. She introduced her team: Dylan Yamashita, Landscape Designer and Project Manager, and Paolo Pelagio, Design Lead.
Architectural Features (Makers)
Ms. Wildhaber advised that the objective of the proposed design is to create a facility that lasts 50 years and reduces maintenance cost and effort. She reviewed the following key elements of the plan:
• Dock Security Gates. Currently, the security gates contain the dock carts, power panels, transformer substations, etc. The plan is to relocate the carts to the storage structure that will be located in the parking lot. The transformers will be moved, as well. The intent is to reduce the footprint of the security gates. An area will still be needed at the top of the gangways to allow functionality, but the goal is to limit the gates’ impact on the walking surface and public access.
Commissioner Faires asked if there has been sufficient communication between her and CG Engineering relative to their design of the substructure and what is being proposed for the reducing the footprint of the gates. Ms. Wildhaber answered that her team has been coordinating with both CG Engineering and Harbor Power. The substations can be within 50 feet of the head of the gangway, which means they can be relocated from where they are now.
Ms. Wildhaber said it is important to make sure that the safety gates are functional and secure for limiting access to the moorage area, as well as limiting how they encroach upon the walking surface. This is difficult because there are no bump outs at the top of the gangways.
Ms. Wildhaber explained that the design team was informed that the Port would likely move to a card access to control the security gates at each of the docks. While this will be easy to incorporate, it wasn’t included in the 30% design. The element over the water will need to be extended so people can’t get around it. They are considering metal materials for the gates, with no glass. She provided inspirational images for the Commission’s information. Commissioner Orvis said he likes the sliding-door option, and Ms. Wildhaber said the team looked at that option as a way to limit the impact on the very narrow boardwalk.
Paolo Pelagio, Makers Architecture and Urban Design, pointed out that the security gate design that has an arched element as a subtle nod to the Port’s logo. They would each have a sliding gate. Commissioner Faires noted that one example provided shows no cantilever from the boardwalk to the ramp. He asked where tenants would park their carts. Ms. Wildhaber answered that carts could be parked in the enclosures that are being constructed in the parking lot. The area inside of the gate would be completely cleaned up and available for moving in and out.
Commissioner Preston asked how often people climb over the current gates, and Mr. Baker said it is not a consistent problem. Commissioner Preston voiced concern that the proposed design would be easy for people to climb around. Mr. Baker said this was discussed with the design team. The gates need to both look good and provide the greatest amount of security. The Commissioners indicated they prefer a sliding gate over a swinging gate. However, there were questions about whether the sliding gate would require more maintenance, and Ms. Wildhaber agreed to study the issue and report back. She said they are leaning towards a manual sliding gate versus a motor-driven sliding gate.
• Bump Outs. The plan calls for bump outs in five locations along the north portwalk, and they will align with the fairways to accommodate the great views towards the mountains. Another idea would be to consolidate the bump outs into a single area that provides the same function.
• Walking Surface. With the exception of the grated decking, the walking surfaces proposed in the Public Access Plan would be changed to allow light to transfer below. The existing curb delineates the width they will work with, but it is also a trip hazard. The 6-inch curb is being proposed to eliminate this hazard, improve ADA access, and tie into the 6-inch curb on the south portwalk.
Commissioner Preston asked why light transfer is important now when the existing structure doesn’t allow for the transfer of light. Ms. Wildhaber answered that the current code requires that 50% of the walking surface must be light-transfer-capable at 60%. The grating and glass block materials are examples that meet this requirement. She said the 6-inch curb would also provide some environmental permitting benefit, as it would allow more light to be transferred underneath. Commissioner Faires asked if it is safe to assume that because of the light transmissibility requirement, the pre-cast concrete walk strip that is shown in the Public Access Plan would not meet the requirement. Ms. Wildhaber answered affirmatively. She said there are a number of options that all meet the light-transfer requirement. The next presentation will provide information about each of the different options. It is important to note that the existing timber portwalk doesn’t meet ADA requirements because of the space in between the timbers that fall in the direction of travel.
• Guardrail. They are considering an updated design for a low-maintenance top rail that is safe and comfortable. Potential materials include powder-coated aluminum and steel, stainless steel, galvanized steel, or hardwood. The Public Access Plan incorporated lighting as a key element in the railing. However, as the team has talked about lighting and the Port’s desire for a safe boardwalk, and they are now leaning away from the light element, as there is also the environmental consideration of limiting nighttime light on the water. The goal is to keep the portwalk lighting on the landside edge.
Commissioner Faires asked if it would be practical and possible to retain the existing railing. Ms. Wildhaber said there are elements they could look at keeping. For example, she believes the galvanized steel railings meet code. However, it is not likely they will recommend keeping any of the wood structure. Commissioner Harris commented that the intent was to redo the entire portwalk, and she cautioned against holding onto elements of the existing structure.
Commissioner Harris recalled that, at one point, they talked about providing signage on the top part of the railing. Mr. McChesney agreed that the Port would like to incorporate interpretive signage as a feature on the portwalk to enhance the pedestrian experience. He asked that this be considered as part of the portwalk design.
Dylan Yamashita , Makers Architecture and Urban Design, noted that the railing design provided in the plan shows a middle section of perforated metal with a decorative finish. Given the requirements related to light transfer, this would likely need to be changed to an open grate/fence type of material. As preferred by the Commission, a finished lumber would be used at the top. He added that openings would be provided as required for ADA compliance.
• Artwork. There are opportunities to incorporate artwork in the railing. There are also opportunities away from the walking surface. Commissioner Orvis commented that public art is wonderful when it is part of the design, but it is terrible when it looks like it was added just because it was required. It would likely be less costly if it is integrated into the design, as well.
Dylan Yamashita, Makers Architecture and Urban Design, provided details about the two design concepts and the Commission discussed each one as follows:
• Concept 1 would utilize a combination of concrete and glass block pre-cast pavers as surface treatment. The portwalk would be raised 6 inches from the existing grade and expanded to the edge of the existing curb. The existing benches and tables would be replaced with concrete planters and benches. ADA accessible ramps from the parking lot to the portwalk would be installed at every ramp entrance. Areas around the dock ramps would be solid concrete for accessibility and dock functionality. The new overhead lighting would keep artificial light away from the water but still provide enough light for people using the portwalk.
Commissioner Faires asked if the glass block pavers are consistent with what was presented earlier by CG Engineering. Ms. Wildhaber answered that the substructure proposed by CG Engineering could accommodate either of the two concepts. Commissioner Faires asked when a decision must be made with regard to the walking surface material. Ms. Wildhaber said the sooner the Commission makes this decision, the better. The team cannot move forward without that input. Mr. Titus added that a decision needs to be made before the design can be advanced to the point it is ready to be submitted to the City of Edmonds for the Substantial Shoreline Development Permit.
Commissioner Johnston asked if the required maintenance and durability of the two different surface material options would be similar. Ms. Wildhaber said maintenance of the glass and concrete block surface involves keeping the glass clean so that light can transfer through. The glass is 4-inches thick and can break if very heavy objects are dropped on them. They can be replaced if that happens. Maintenance of the metal grating option is pretty straight forward. Commissioner Preston asked if there would be a slight edge around the glass blocks that would get full of dirt and grit. Ms. Wildhaber said that would occur with any joint, regardless of the material that is used. She said she didn’t see that as a problem where the glass block material was used on the Seattle Waterfront.
Commissioner Faires asked about the cost difference between the two surface materials. Ms. Wildhaber answered that the glass block material would be more expensive than the grated surface.
Commissioner Harris asked her to speak to the pros and cons of moving the benches and tables away from the water. Ms. Wildhaber answered that the bump outs were included in Concept 1, but the benches were moved inland. The portwalk is narrow, and the goal is to keep people moving through the areas by limiting the stuff in the walkway. Commissioner Johnston observed that the benches along the walkway near Anthony’s are also moved back. Commissioner Preston suggested that the planters could be narrower to give more walkable space.
Mr. Baker asked how opaque the glass blocks would be and what is located under the blocks might impact their appearance from above. Ms. Wildhaber answered that they are tinted glass, with a sandblast surface on top to help with traction. While light transfers through them, you can’t see what is located below them. With the grating, you can actually see through the openings in the grate. She said the team believes the glass block surface is more comfortable to walk on. Again, she said both the glass block and metal grating surfaces would meet the code requirement for light transfer. Mr. McChesney said the LaConner’s entire public access feature is grated FRP, and it looks very utilitarian. Commissioner Orvis added that pets and small children also have problems walking on grated surfaces. Commissioner Preston asked if the glass block surface would be bumpy for strollers and walkers, and Ms. Wildhaber answered that it would provide a smooth surface that meets ADA requirements.
Mr. Yamashita advised that, as currently proposed, two different glass blocks would be used based on zone. A glass block inland pattern of 8”x8” glass blocks would be used for zones intended for pedestrians to stop, and 8”x10” glass blocks would be used in “go” zones for walking and jogging pedestrians. He agreed that the planters could be narrower, but he included a back side on the bench so people’s backs are not directly exposed to the road. Commissioner Harris raised a concern that using different sized blocks might make the boardwalk look choppy. Ms. Wildhaber commented that there may be ways to differentiate using different colors of concrete as opposed to different sizes of glass blocks. She said the team would respond to this concern and look at using a similar pattern all the way across the surface of the boardwalk.
Commissioner Preston asked if the concrete used with the glass block material could be colored something other than white, which looks too institutional and sterile. Ms. Wildhaber answered affirmatively, noting that it could be colored to match the concrete used on the south portwalk.
• Concept 2 would be a concrete and metal grate boardwalk that would be expanded to the edge of the existing curb and remain at the existing grade. Fifty percent of the new boardwalk would be metal grating, except where it is oriented on a north/south axis where the grating requirement is 30%. The remainder of the boardwalk and areas adjacent to the dock ramps would be wood-stamped concrete pavers. The existing bump outs would be removed, and the square footage would be consolidated at one location across from the Port’s current Administration Building. Bollards with inlaid lighting would be added along the landside of the boardwalk to provide safety for both cars and pedestrians. Because the bulkhead is being moved, the permitting requirements will remain the same if they change the footprint of the boardwalk, as long as they maintain the same square footage. With this concept, all of the plantings along the boardwalk would be consolidated at the south end, creating a node in the middle of the marina for gathering, viewing, etc. There would also be opportunities for public art in this location.
Commissioner Preston said he doesn’t like the wood-stamped concrete pavers, as they look similar to what is there now. Mr. Yamashita noted that there are a variety of options for stamped concrete. The proposed wood-stamped concrete is intended to reflect the history of the existing boardwalk.
Commissioner Johnston asked how vulnerable the lighted bollards would be to traffic given that the boardwalk would be at the same grade as the parking lot. Commissioner Orvis observed that the transition between the two surfaces (boardwalk and parking lot) would be uncomfortable even if ADA compliant. Ms. Wildhaber agreed that it would better if there was a grade change across the entire width of the parking area.
Mr. McChesney pointed out that eliminating the existing bump outs and consolidating them into one central node would not increase the amount of over-water coverage. However, Concept 2 could still be problematic from a permitting point of view. Ms. Wildhaber explained that the single, central node concept would provide space where activities could occur, such as focused education and outreach, vendors, performances, etc. This would allow the walkway to remain clear. However, it would add another layer to the permit process. Mr. McChesney summarized that that the Commission must make a decision on whether the added level of permitting complexity is worth doing.
Ms. Wildhaber reminded the Commission that the two concepts could be mixed and matched to create a hybrid alternative.
Commissioner Faires asked how soon the Commission needs to make a decision as to the preferred alternative. Mr. Titus answered that, in order to move on to the next phase of permitting, the Commission needs to make a decision on the deck surface material (glass block or grated) and whether to raise the surface 6 inches or keep it at the same level. Ms. Wildhaber added that the Commission also needs to make a decision about whether to spread the planters and benches (bump outs) along the walkway or concentrate them into a central gathering area.
Ms. Wildhaber reviewed cost comparisons for Concepts 1 and 2, noting that the numbers include markups and contingencies. She summarized that raising the surface 6 inches, as proposed in Concept 1, would not add any additional cost but the glass block surface would cost roughly $600,000 more than the steel grade (Concept 2). The concrete planters in Concept 1 would cost about $200,000, and the railing and security gate costs would be the same with either concept. The lit bollards in Concept 2 would be more expensive because there would be more of them.
Commissioner Johnston asked if both of the concepts reflect the public input that was gathered early in the process. Ms. Wildhaber answered that the concepts were based on the Public Access Plan, which reflects the public input that was received during that process. The team hasn’t done any public outreach as part of this design process.
The Commissioners indicated unanimous support for the Concept 1, which calls for a glass block/concrete surface and raising the boardwalk six inches. Commissioner Harris noted that additional discussion is needed on the environmental impacts associated with eliminating the bump outs and consolidating them into one central node.
Mr. McChesney noted that the design team would have additional discussions with the Commission as the plans are refined and greater details are added.
Permit Process and Environmental Issues (Landau Associates)
Allison Reak, Landau Associates, shared her professional background, noting that her specialty is environmental permits for port projects. She said the original thought was that the project could be done without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers because repairing the bulkhead would not have triggered the Corps definition of in-water work. However, based on the Corps new high-tide level of 12.5 feet, any work done at 12.5 feet or shallower requires a Corps permit if the volume of the water in Puget Sound will change. That means that excavating the existing bulkhead to put the new bulkhead behind it will trigger the Corps permit, and the project will move from a very simple shoreline permit process without excavation to a much more complicated series of permits.
Ms. Reak explained that the review timeline for the required permits is variable, depending on the complexity of the project. The number one goal is to keep mitigation within the project (self-mitigating). A mitigation nightmare is created when the environmental impacts of a project become greater than the environmental benefits. Not only is it difficult to calculate what is fair as far as mitigation, you can end up having to pay for off-site mitigation that requires long-term monitoring and maintenance. It is very important to make the environmental benefits as easy as possible for the regulatory people to understand. At a minimum, the project should guarantee that all of the state, local and federal regulations are met, and her job is to help the team identify and incorporate all of these requirements into the project design.
Ms. Reak advised that the big things that influence and promote the beneficial aspects of the proposed design are:
• Removing creosote materials.
• Increasing the amount of lighting under the structure by raising the boardwalk 6 inches. Because the boardwalk extends over the water and the marina is heavily used by juvenile salmon, there is an extra bit of focus on making the boardwalk condition as beneficial as possible. A representative from the Department of Fish and Wildlife has stated that, while it is very difficult to quantify, it is incredibly valuable to raise the structure higher above the water. Raising the boardwalk 6 inches to make it a more easily-accessible, define the space, and separate it from the parking lot will result in an enormous amount of lighting credit that can be used for other concessions associated with the design, such as increased coverage.
• Increasing the amount of lighting under the structure by using a material that allows light to penetrate. The Department of Fisheries has voiced concern that sanding and/or coloring the glass blocks decreases the amount of light transmission. To counterbalance that, Makers has proposed clear glass blocks with a light transmission factor of 60% or greater. Makers’ proposal is also consistent with the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) requirement that 50% of the surface must be grated or have light penetration.
• Ensuring that the waterward edge of the boardwalk has as much light as possible. Relocating the dock cart storage and transformers to the parking lot will create an additional environmental benefit. Instead of several small bump outs, there could be one long, continuous bump out, but the projection should be close to what currently exists. Perhaps the consolidated bump out could go a little further out in the water, as it would be mitigated by the increased height. Another option would be to use a grated material on the bump out to create more light penetration, but this must also be balanced with ADA accessibility, which limits the openings in one direction to a half an inch.
Ms. Reak summarized that Concept 1 would meet all of the four criteria above. From here, they will go back and forth between the various agencies until they all agree and the project is permitted. She provided a flow chart for the various processes involved in permitting at the local, state and federal levels. Mr. McChesney asked what she anticipates for the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review, and Ms. Reak answered that she anticipates a Determination of Non-Significance, since the project will take everything out and what they are putting back will be less and better.
Ms. Reak advised that the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit process will take longer because the City’s decision must be reviewed by the Department of Ecology (DOE). A Conditional Use Permit will likely be issued at the same time as the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit. On the other hand, the Corps permitting process takes a long time. Once they finish reviewing the application and the internal Endangered Species Act review has been completed, the biological evaluation will move forward to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries (NMF) Service. She summarized that, best case, the permits will be in hand by the end of September 2022. However, the NMF Service review could extend to the summer of 2023.
Commissioner Faires asked what is the best role for the Port to take to move the federal permit processes forward. Ms. Reak cautioned that the project team, Port staff and Commissioners should not call and pester the people who are reviewing the permits. Instead, they should continue to be helpful and responsive to the agencies. However, there are some specific ways that people are trying to work with the Department of Commerce to free Washington State of the NMF tyranny, and the Commissioners could have some influence in that regard. Commissioner Johnston reported that the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) is looking into streamlining the NMF review process. Commissioner Harris added that the National Marine Trade Association (NMTA) is also working on this issue.
Commissioner Harris summarized that the design could incorporate either the existing bump outs or a consolidated bump out, but they shouldn’t extend out further into the water. Ms. Reak agreed. She said Concept 1 incorporates all of the elements that are important from an environmental standpoint. Commissioner Orvis said his understanding is that retaining the minimal number of bump outs and moving the public amenities upland would be considered positive from an environmental standpoint. Commissioner Johnston said that, back when he was working with permits, maintaining the same footprint simplified the permitting process. Relocating but maintaining the same amount of area was a little more difficult, and expanding the area was the hardest.
Chair Harris announced that the Commission would take a 30-minute break at 12:15 p.m. for lunch, during which no Port business would be discussed. The retreat was reconvened at 12:45 p.m.
NEW ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING (Jackson Main Architecture)
Project Overview (Jackson Main Architecture)
Katerina Prochaska, Jackson Main Architecture, reviewed that the Port’s previous design work for the subject parcel was for a sailboat showroom. The proposed design for the new Administration/Maintenance Building uses the exact same parameters and footprint to avoid having to through another shoreline permit exercise. The building will be oriented to face Admiral Way, and there will be a new curb cut north of the building to serve the parking that will circulate out to the existing curb cut. As proposed, the building would be two-stories to accommodate the Port’s office and maintenance uses, as well as some spaces for retail and office.
Design Options (Jackson Main Architecture)
Ms. Prochaska and Meghan Craig, Jackson Main Architecture, reviewed the following three options for the Commission’s consideration:
• Option 1 – Mr. Prochaska explained that the overall footprint of the building would be the same as the building that was approved with the 2017 Shoreline Development Permit. The Port’s maintenance area would be located at the back of the building (east), and there would be an entrance on the north side to a lobby that takes you to the upper floor for the Port’s Administrative offices. A parking area would be located north of the building, and retail space would be located on the ground floor on the west side of the building. This space was intentionally designed as a large open space that could be subdivided and finished based on tenant requirements.
Ms. Prochaska advised that the staircase on the south side of the building would provide access to the administration office space. The intent is that the maintenance space on the east side of the building would buffer the leasable retail and office spaces on Admiral Way from impacts associated with the railroad tracks to the east. The administrative offices and Commission meeting room would be accessible from the lobby on the north side of the building. The lobby would also provide access to the approximately 700 square feet of leasable office space. The building’s 11,500 square feet of space would be evenly divided between the two floors. Some of the maintenance space would be double height, and the 2nd story walls between the offices and maintenance areas would be sound proofed. The parking area would have 21 spaces.
Commissioner Faires asked if the lobby on the north side of the building would be used solely for access to the Port’s administrative offices on the 2nd floor and would not provide access to the retail uses along Admiral Way (western façade). Ms. Prochaska agreed that is what is currently proposed, but a retail entrance could also be added on the northern façade.
Ms. Prochaska shared a number of pictures depicting the exterior design of the building, noting that it includes a lot of glazing on the ground floor of the western façade (Admiral Way), with windows on the 2nd floor for each of the office spaces. Brick would be added on the base of the building, and landscape buffers would be provided along the street. She advised that the trash enclosure, located on the east side of the building, would be designed to meet the City’s requirements. A break in the façade was introduced on the western façade to offset the corner and signage would be provided to delineate the building entrances.
Commissioner Preston voiced concern that the archive space on the 2nd floor is too large. He noted that there are businesses that scan archives, so a large storage area for archives would not be required. Ms. Prochaska said the room was sized based on the Port’s current archive storage space. Mr. McChesney said staff has had internal discussions about how to streamline the archives and public records. He agreed there are ways to do it with software, but these other options haven’t been perfected yet.
• Option 2 – Ms. Prochaska suggested this option would eliminate 20 feet from the south side of the building, reducing the size of the building by about 2,000 square feet. Ground floor retail/shop space would be located on the in the southwest corner, and the Port office space in the northwest corner. The main entrances to the building would be the same as in Option 1. The upper floor would be accessed from the lobby on the south side of the building. Port offices would be located on the 2nd floor of the west side of the building, and the Commission meeting room would be in the northeast corner. There would be no leasable office space. By reducing the size of the building, there would be space on the south side for additional parking. Ms. Craig added that this option provides direct access from the lobby to the Commission Meeting Room, resulting in a better separation between the Port’s office and public functions.
Ms. Prochaska shared a number of pictures depicting the exterior design of the building, noting the additional parking spaces that could be provided on the south side of the building. The character of the building would remain the same as in Option 1, but the building width would be reduced.
• Option 3 – Ms. Prochaska advised that, in this option, the ground floor would be same size as Option 1, and the commercial/retail spaces would be located on the western side of the building. The entrances for the Port functions would be located on the north side of the building. The double height maintenance area would be shifted inward, as well. The 2nd-floor layout would be the same as shown in Option 2, with the office spaces along Admiral Way. This option would result in 10,700 square feet of space, and there would be 21 parking spaces.
Ms. Prochaska shared a number of pictures depicting the exterior design of the building, noting how the upper story of the building would be stepped back on the south side.
Commissioner Harris asked how many staff office spaces are available in the current Administration Building, and Mr. McChesney answered six and each of the three options would provide seven office spaces. He explained that the goal is to reconfigure the office space and make it more efficient overall. Aside from the cost differences, Commissioner Harris asked if the main differences between the three options is the amount of leasable space available on the 2nd floor. Mr. McChesney commented that providing the 700 square feet of leasable office space on the 2nd floor creates a number of design challenges. While all of the options are workable, he said he isn’t sure the Port would gain a whole lot by making the building smaller. His preference would be full build out. The Commissioners agreed, and Commissioner Harris observed that even if there isn’t any leasable space, the larger building would allow the Port to grow as needed.
Commissioner Preston observed that the maximum height limit is 30 feet. He asked if there would be benefits to increasing the height of the building by 3.5 feet to the maximum allowed. Ms. Prochaska pointed out that the building height of the northwest corner is greater to make it stand out. She reminded them that the rooftop mechanical equipment cannot extend above the 30-foot height limit, and they need some wiggle room for potential roof slopes.
Commissioner Faires asked about the interior heights of the 1st and 2nd floors. Ms. Prochaska said the 1st floor will have a taller ceiling height than the 2nd floor. To better accommodate retail uses, the ground floor ceiling height will be 15 feet. The 2nd floor office space will have 9-foot ceilings.
Mr. McChesney asked if the City allows additional building height to accommodate solar panels. Ms. Prochaska responded that solar panels can extend beyond the height limit. However, for aesthetic reasons, it will be important to only extend the solar panels as high as absolutely necessary. On the other hand, visible solar panels will advise the public that the building is sustainably oriented.
Commissioner Faires asked if extending the solar panels beyond the 30-foot height would cause the building to be designated as non-conforming. Ms. Prochaska said the building design would still be considered conforming. However, that would not be true for other types of rooftop mechanical equipment.
Ms. Prochaska said the cost estimate for full buildout of Option 1 is $4,790,000, without tax. With tax, the cost estimate would be $5,200,000. The design team has had internal discussions about the various reasons for the increased construction costs. While lower costs are anticipated by the time the building is constructed in a year and a half, they cannot speculation as to what the change will be. She further advised that the cost estimate for Option 2 is about $500,000 less than Option 1. Commissioner Faires asked if there would be a material difference in cost between Options 1 and 3, and Ms. Prochaska answered yes, but she doesn’t have an exact number.
Commissioner Harris asked if the cost estimates include LEED Certification and/or solar installation, and Ms. Prochaska answered that it doesn’t include solar installation, and Mr. Manning is prepared to discuss how LEED Certification would impact the cost of the project.
Ms. Prochaska reported that the City of Edmonds has accepted the design review application, and the project is scheduled for administrative design review on June 2nd. The application presented full buildout, as illustrated in Options 1 and 2. Depending on which of the three options the Commission selects, the design team will work to move the design forward. As directed by the Commission, the design team will also work to incorporate LEED measures into the design. The goal is to submit a building permit application to the City of Edmonds in September. The anticipated start date for construction is early next year, with bidding starting in early February.
Commissioner Faires asked if there is any net cost information relative to the cost of the building minus the possible income from retail space, etc. Mr. McChesney answered that this information would be gathered as part of the next phase. At this time, the design team is seeking direction from the Commission as to which option they prefer for the building design. The Commissioners all indicated support for Option 1.
Understanding that the Port has spent some money to design the new building, Commissioner Faires cautioned that the Commission won’t make the decision to move the project forward until a final cost analysis has been provided and the financial impacts are clear. Mr. McChesney agreed that further work needs to be done on financing the project, and it can primarily be done internally. However, it should not be inferred that the Port won’t move forward with the goal of having building permits and plans and specs. Once that is done, the Commission will still have to authorize project construction.
Commissioner Harris asked how long it will take to construct the building, and Mr. McChesney answered six to eight months.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification (RWDI)
Richard Manning, RWDI, advised that LEED is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world. The program’s framework covers location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and indoor environmental quality. He explained that decisions on LEED are based on the benefits versus the costs. He reviewed the benefits of LEED Certification as follows:
• Operating Cost Savings. LEED Buildings are more energy efficient and have lower operating costs. They also go through a process called “commissioning,” where a 3rd-party agent looks at the equipment to make sure it is installed correctly and works together. Commissioning used to be an extra expense of LEED, but the Washington State Code now requires it whether a project is LEED built or not.
• Increased Building Value. LEED Buildings tend to have a higher market valuation, which is something to consider when trying to lease retail space. Certain types of retailers may be motivated by a LEED space.
• Public Recognition. People are starting to recognize and favor LEED buildings.
• Third Party Verification of Green Building Claims. LEED is a way to use a 3rd party to show you are complying with your own standards. The Port has certain environmental standards. Some of them align with LEED and others are different.
Mr. Manning also reviewed the cost of LEED Certification as follows:
• Registration and Certification Fees. There are LEED registration and certification fees, but they are not too high.
• Consultant Fees for Documentation Process. LEED requires back-up documentation for all of the criteria. While this documentation aligns with the construction process, it is also an extra process and there can be some additional soft costs.
• Energy Modeling. Energy modeling is required for LEED Certification. The Snohomish County Public Utility District does have an incentive program to cover early design stage modeling, which can be used to help identify energy-efficiency measures applicable to the project. Energy modeling will also be required to comply with the code.
• High-Quality and More Efficient HVAC Equipment. This equipment will cost more.
• Contractor Fees for Documentation Tracking. During the construction phase, developers are required to follow certain protocols and track the materials they purchase and procure. There are also some additional meetings required. This results in additional costs for the contractor.
Mr. Manning said it is difficult to provide estimated numbers for the costs and benefits associated with LEED Certification for the proposed new building because it will all depend on the measures the Port chooses to implement. However, his experience is that LEED Certified buildings do not add additional cost. The higher levels of certification do add more cost to a project.
Mr. Manning provided a copy of the LEED New Construction Scorecard, which outlines a variety of measures that offer a total of 110 points. He explained that 40 points are needed to get to LEED Certification and 50 are needed to get to LEED Silver Certification. After reviewing the drawings and site plan provided by Jackson Main and reviewing the building location, he made the assumption that the project could obtain LEED Certification without a lot of extra cost.
Mr. Manning said another type of certification program is Salmon-Safe. He suggested the Port should do this certification program anyway since the project will be located close to the water. It is not a comprehensive green building rating system like LEED, but it looks at stormwater, water use, and chemicals and pesticides. It addresses operation and management more than design. There are only five requirements associated with the programs and the cost is low.
Commissioner Harris asked if the Salmon-Safe Certification Program is intended to mitigate how much stormwater is released to the surrounding ground and water. Mr. Manning answered affirmatively and added that it also makes sure the water that is released from the site is clean. In addition, it looks at water use and has criteria for the chemicals and pesticides that are used for maintenance. Commissioner Preston asked how they could reduce water usage. Mr. Manning answered that one example is an irrigation system that uses weather data so it doesn’t water if it knows it is going to rain. Commissioner Orvis suggested that the Port would likely already qualify for Salmon Safe Certification.
Commissioner Faires asked how much extra it would cost for the project to obtain LEED Silver Certification. Ms. Prochaska noted that all of the consultants on the design team included a line item for LEED Certification, and she estimated the soft costs associated with LEED Silver Certification would be between $20,000 and $30,000. There would also be additional construction costs associated with certification. Mr. McChesney recalled that when the team of consultants was put together, the LEED consultant added about $60,000. Mr. Manning reminded the Commission that the code will require the Port to do commissioning and energy modeling anyway. He summarized that an additional 5% added to the cost of construction would be on the high end for a LEED Silver Certified building.
Commissioner Preston asked how much it would cost the Port to build to LEED Silver standard or better without pursuing the actual certification. Mr. Manning agreed that is one option, and some developers use the checklist to make sure they incorporate measures that will result in a better building without actually pursuing LEED Certification. However, you don’t get the same level of rigor if you don’t go through the documentation process. You also lose out on some of the community benefit and buy in to the project.
Commissioner Faires asked when the design team needs the Commission to make a decision relative to LEED Certification, and Ms. Prochaska answered as soon as possible. It’s much easier and cost effective to make a decision early so that sustainability strategies can be incorporated into the initial design.
Commissioner Faires proposed that the Port do its best to build to LEED standards, but not apply for LEED Certification. Commissioner Harris disagreed. She reminded them that environmental stewardship is part of the Port’s mission. She understands that it will add additional cost, but without actual certification, she questioned how the community would trust them that the building is built to LEED standards. Commissioner Johnston suggested the response could be that, given the scale and cost of the project, the Port has achieved its goal and has a high standard for environmental practice that will continue with the new building. Commissioner Faires said it is also the Port’s mission to look after the financial future of the Port for its owners.
Commissioner Orvis observed that a LEED Certified Building is simply a building that meets all of the code requirements. He voiced concern about the extra cost to do all of the documentation required for LEED Silver Certification to verify that the Port did all it said it would. He said he is less inclined to pay for a lot of administrative work when the money could be spent doing something that is more meaningful. Mr. McChesney agreed and suggested that adding solar capability would be very visible and be a better overall use of funds. Commissioner Faires concurred.
Commissioner Preston recalled Mr. Manning’s earlier comment that, either way, the code will require the Port to pay for commissioning and energy modeling. He observed that projects that are built to current code are close to LEED Certification. Mr. Manning commented that LEED has been trying to raise the bar with each innovation, and recent focus has been on energy efficiency and materials requirements. He acknowledged the cost of going through the certification process but noted that it would include additional analysis associated with energy efficiency, stormwater design, etc. Without the LEED Program guidelines, the design team will not be pushed to achieve the higher level of performance. LEED Certification would also allow the Port to stand out as having done something above and beyond most other buildings in Edmonds. Mr. McChesney summarized that LEED Certification would be a political dividend rather than an economic dividend.
Mr. McChesney raised the questions of whether it would be better to spend money adapting the building design to achieve LEED Silver Certification or invest the same amount of money into a building apparatus like solar. Ms. Prochaska referred to the checklist that was provided by Mr. Manning, which shows the project has a very good chance of achieving LEED Certification. Incorporating just a few more measures into the project design could push the building to LEED Silver Certification. The Washington State Energy Code gets projects close to LEED Certification with no additional costs. As they get further into the design, they will have a better idea of the cost implications of LEED Silver Certification, and the Commission will be better able to make a final decision. While she doesn’t recommend it, the Commission could decide not to conclude the 3rd-party verification that is required for LEED Certification.
Ms. Prochaska pointed out that, if the Commission decides to go down the path of LEED Certification, there are a number of different options for meeting the requirements. She also pointed out that making the building solar ready is very possible, and the solar array could be installed at some point in the future when funds become available. Mr. McChesney said they will definitely want the roof structure to be designed to accommodate solar, whether it is added now or in the future. However, he still questions the better value, a basic building that is documented and certified as LEED, or using that money to put in solar panels now.
Commissioner Faires asked if Ms. Prochaska agrees it would cost the Port about $100,000 to get LEED Certification with the present building, assuming that no major equipment changes would be required. Ms. Prochaska agreed that is possible, but she can’t say for certain at this stage.
Commissioner Harris said her understanding is that the Commission can direct the design team to walk down the path of LEED Certification, recognizing that there will be several checkpoints going forward. They don’t have to make a final decision about going LEED Silver at this point. Mr. Manning agreed that they could walk down the path of LEED Certification, filling in the scorecard as the design moves forward. However, not too much further down the road, the Commission will need to make a final decision about LEED Certification or not.
Commissioner Faires pointed out that it will cost some money to go through the LEED Certification process, regardless of whether or not they bump it up to Silver, because the primary contractor will have to ask the subcontractors to track certain information. He suggested it would be best for the Port to make a decision now. Mr. McChesney suggested the Commissioners take a few days to reflect on the issues and talk amongst themselves so they can provide the design team with a definitive answer as opposed to an ongoing discussion.
Commissioner Orvis said he is concerned about being asked to make a decision without knowing what it will cost and the benefit it will provide. Commissioner Johnston agreed. Mr. McChesney commented that, although Mr. Manning laid out the benefits of LEED Certification, they don’t have a full understanding of the incremental cost. Commissioner Orvis added that, in order to look at the checklist realistically, you need to be aware of the existing environment at the Port (i.e., stormwater program, pesticide/herbicide program, etc.). Because the Port’s existing environment, it may be easier and less costly to get the points needed for LEED Certification.
Commissioner Harris requested a cost estimate for adding solar arrays on the proposed new building. Mr. Manning agreed to evaluate the size of solar array that would be needed and provide a rough cost estimate. The Commissioners agreed that this information would be helpful to their decision-making process. Ms. Prochaska said it isn’t possible for a building to have all of its electricity covered by a solar array. Most projects that use solar arrays target specific systems in the building. Mr. McChesney clarified that the Port never assumed that going solar would create energy self-sufficiency.
Mr. McChesney summarized that there are a lot of technical, process and cost issues for the Commission to consider before making a decision on LEED Certification, and they need a better handle on how those all fit together. Commissioner Harris reviewed that the Commission has requested more information on solar and what would be possible for the building. Mr. McChesney advised that the Port has already reached out to the Snohomish County Public Utility District as a resource to help them understand the physics of solar, as well as the economic benefits. Absent this information, it will be difficult for the Commission to make a decision as to the better value.
Ms. Prochaska reviewed that the Commission is still undecided about pursuing LEED Certification or using that money to add solar to the building. She asked if there is any potential for doing some version of both. Commissioner Faires commented that, at the very least, the building should be constructed in such a way that it would support solar, whether it is added now or in the future. Commissioner Harris pointed out that if solar is added now, the project would receive points towards LEED Certification.
Ms. Prochaska agreed to work with Mr. Manning to put some bookends on the cost numbers associated with LEED-related expenditures. This may help the Commission make a decision one way or another.
Commissioner Orvis said he isn’t sure how much LEED Certification would contribute to the value of the building. He said he isn’t opposed to upgrading the equipment or employing other sustainable measures from the checklist, but he is opposed to paying someone $50,000 to $100,000 just to document and put a rubber stamp on the project. He might be more supportive if the documentation costs were closer to $20,000. Mr. McChesney added that engineering costs would also increase. He explained that each of the contracts has a basic fee for design work, and an additional contingency fee for LEED Certification. Commissioner Johnston said $50,000 would be the most he would support for LEED Certification.
Mr. McChesney said he was disappointed that the two consultants didn’t provide more information about solar, as this was a specific request he made prior to the retreat. The Commission also voiced frustration that the consultants were not able to provide more definitive numbers for the additional costs associated with LEED Certification.
Commissioner Johnston summarized that the real issue is how far the Port wants to take the optics of the building. It will be a fine building that is constructed to code and beyond and will likely include a solar array. The Port already has an incredible set of environmental practices and procedures that have served it well, including stormwater infiltration, herbicide/pesticide control and water conservation. He isn’t worried about how the project will be perceived by the public because the Port will continue to look like an environmentally-conscious organization. Commissioner Orvis noted that the Waterfront Center is the only LEED Certified building in Edmonds. He said he isn’t sure that the optics for LEED Certification is worth the additional cost, as long as the Port is comfortable that the building is environmentally conscious. Commissioner Faires suggested that a building with solar panels on the roof is probably optically superior to a building that is written up in the local newspaper one time as being a LEED Certified building.
Commissioner Harris commented that if the goal is to build an environmental building, they will be doing the work anyway except for the cost of certification. Until they figure out what the additional cost will be, they can’t make a final decision.
Mr. McChesney thanked Ms. Ebel and Ms. Michaud for their hard work preparing for the retreat.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 2:25 p.m.
Steve Johnston, Port Commission Secretary