Log exports appear to be on schedule
Newport Port Commissioners learned Tuesday evening that things appear to be “steady as she goes” for the commencement of log exports to the Far East starting this summer for Alcan Timber. Alcan is expected to process their logs in Toledo, and load them aboard ships at the International Terminal but only half-full because the riverbed off the terminal hasn’t been dredged deep enough yet.
Teevin is still gathering permits for the construction of their log export operation just off to the east of the International Terminal. Once those permits are issued for storm drains and stormwater treatment and for a few other odds and ends they could be ready to ship logs in half-full ships to the Far East as early as mid-November. The later start time is due to having to build their log handling and debarking yard just east of the terminal, starting July 1st. Teevin manager Eric Oien said the six million dollar project should be complete by late September or early October – and then they could begin shipping half-loaded ships.
Fully loaded log ships are not expected to set sail from Newport until after additional dredging is complete sometime in late November. Log ships ride lower in the water when fully loaded, so an extra deep channel will have to be dug out for them. That extra dredging is expected to start after November 1st, the earliest any construction activities can begin, “in water” under state law. All “in water” work must be completed by February 15th.
Meanwhile Port Manager Kevin Greenwood says he’s optimistic that the dredging will begin on time. He says the port has completed plans to make up for the loss of fish habitat in front of the terminal due to the dredging. He said such mitigation, required by law, will be achieved by expanding habitat right across the river behind the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Greenwood says all the paperwork should be signed in time to get the dredging permit approved and the dredging underway on, or just after, November 1st. It’s expected to take around two weeks to complete. Again, Teevin hopes to be shipping full loads to the Far East sometime in mid-to-late November. Certainly before the first of the year, Oien said.
Port hears a polite protest over proposed higher moorage rates
Some charter boat captains dropped by the port meeting to let the commission know they’re not at all happy to see their moorage fees rising 30-40%. One boat captain said his rate moorage rate was rising $700 – another said his total moorage fees were rising $2,000. They said such rates will severely eat into their profit margins. One said that their operations bring fishing tourists to Newport who not only fish, but they stay in hotels and motels and frequent local restaurants and gift shops, all of which boosts the local economy.
The sincere, if not earnest complaints caught the commission by surprise. Commissioners turned to their still new-in-the-saddle Port Manager Kevin Greenwood and asked, in so many words, ‘what’s with this?’
Greenwood and his finance director told the commission that they are in the process of categorizing the boats in the South Beach Marina so that the proper moorage rates can be correctly applied to each. A rather detailed discussion ensued during which the commission asked Greenwood to “fix the problem.” Greenwood and his finance director said they would. After the meeting the “fix” appeared to involve classifying the boats to their proper designations but maintaining the discount that charter boats have historically received for several decades, ostensibly for their over-sized contribution to the local economy.
A revised moorage schedule is expected back before the commission at its next meeting.