The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.
Letter to the Editor, NewsLincolnCounty.com
Vote Yes on 21-182 – Bond Measure for the Port of Alsea
I have been a member of the Port of Alsea Board of Commissioners since 2011. Every one of our board members takes our responsibility to ensure the future of the Port very seriously, and we did not come to the decision to go for a Bond Measure lightly.
It’s a known fact that the Port of Alsea is an important economic driver for the Port District communities of Seal Rock, Waldport and Yachats, attracting visitors throughout the year. The Marina is the only significant access to the Alsea Bay. And in busy summer months, the single boat ramp and limited moorage are often at capacity.
But beneath the surface, the 30-year-old marina has deteriorated beyond repair and must be replaced. As pilings and docks become unsafe, the entire structure is at risk. If no action is taken and the infrastructure continues to deteriorate, the Port may have to close areas found to be unsafe within the marina and boat ramp.
In the late 1990’s Oregonians enacted legislation which precluded Special Districts, including the Port of Alsea, from using Emergency Bond Measures to finance Port repairs, as we had done in the past. Since then, the Port has relied on funds from launch fees, Port District taxes and small grants to pay for upkeep of our facility. We have been unable to establish reserves to plan for future needs.
The Port of Alsea Board of Commissioners, members duly elected by the voters to represent the best interests of the Port, realized that we needed to develop goals and strategies that would increase Port revenue and look for future potential uses and income for the Port. During the past decade, we adopted a Strategic Business Plan and created a Port Capital Facilities Needs list which identified all Port assets and made decisions about how to achieve greater use of the Port’s limited land resources.
Four years ago, the Port received a $350,000 grant from the Oregon State Marine Board to replace the launch ramp and boarding floats with a two-lane launch ramp with a center float. However, the Port would have to raise $175,000 in matching funds to be able to proceed with the project. The Marine Board has carried that grant over for two funding cycles (of two years each) so that the Port of Alsea could raise the matching funds before the 2018-19 fiscal year. Without this $175,000, the Port will lose the grant at the end of this year.
At the direction of the Board of Commissioners, the launch ramp fee was increased by two dollars – overnight and monthly moorage fees were instituted. Port Commissioners enacted a Resolution establishing a Commercial User License fee paid by commercial users of the bay, and Port leases have been brought to current market standards. While all this has added to the Port’s revenues, we are still operating on a very limited budget.
In December 2015, strong storm run-off deposited about 10,000 cubic yards of silt in the marina and toppled two pilings in the debris boom east of the marina. At low tide, docks were sitting on sand. Lincoln County was subsequently declared a Disaster Area due to the County-wide damage caused by this storm, making the Port eligible for FEMA disaster relief funds. The Port applied for and received funding from FEMA to remove and replace the debris boom and pilings, and dredge the silt from the marina. Almost the entire cost of this project was paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Associated costs – mobilization and de-mobilization of equipment, insurance, labor, and permit fees – were also covered. This was a project the Port could not have done without Federal assistance.
Because of the damage from this storm, an inspection of pilings in the marina, as well as an evaluation of the docks and floats was started. In looking at the results, it became very apparent that Commissioners needed to be thinking about how the 30-year-old infrastructure could be replaced.
In 2016, the Port Manager and Commissioners began discussing the idea of a Bond Measure to finance a new marina, include the matching funds needed for the Marine Board loan, as well as funding some other smaller projects. We realized the Port did not have the income to finance such a project through traditional sources nor the revenue to make subsequent payments. We all agreed that a Bond Measure was our only option and directed the Port Manager to identify how much was needed.
Here is how we arrived at the final cost of the $2.6 Million Bond Measure.
–By combining the Marine Board Launch Ramp Project and the new Marina construction project, we will see significant savings on much of the work. An example is the associated costs of heavy equipment for piling work—transport, insurance, labor, etc. Because we have combined the Marina and Launch Ramp projects, we will only face this expense once.
–We requested an initial estimate from a marine construction company for the new marina – a range of high to low.
–The Oregon State Marine Board grant provided $350,000 for construction of the launch ramp and boarding floats, and estimated the cost of mitigation based upon the amount of additional riprap needed for the larger launch. And, reminded us that we still needed to provide the $175,000 matching funds.
–We were able to use expenses incurred for the FEMA work permits as an estimate for the cost of this project.
–We know the amount still owing on the Business Oregon loan which will be paid from Bond funds.
–Special Districts of Oregon provided a private financial advisor and legal counsel to help us through the process of preparing the Bond Measure and associated costs. Payment for these services will occur only if the Bond Measure passes.
Please help us take care of this beautiful asset to our community, our Port of Alsea. Vote Yes on Measure 21-182!
Thank you. We appreciate your support.
Jan Power, Port of Alsea Board of Commissioners
And fellow commissioners Rob Bishop, Buster Pankey, Chuck Pavlick, and Joe Rohleder
For additional information, contact Port Commissioners Jan Power at JPower@PortOfAlsea.com or Rob Bishop at RBishop@PortOfAlsea.com.
Further information is also available on the web at “FriendsofthePortofAlsea.org”.