When Toledo Port Commissioners sat down this week with the Toledo City Council to share ideas about the future, the commissioners told the council that their new boat repair operation at Sturgeon Bend is going so well, they’re already thinking about how they might expand it.
Port Manager Bud Shoemake said they have a travel lift and a small dry dock, along with upland areas to work on boats to prevent pollution. But he said they’re already talking about their next big step. And that would be to finance a marine rail system or a larger travel lift or maybe eventually both. Shoemake told the council that the port will be developing a business plan to help them acquire grants or low interest loans to buy the bigger lifts so they can work on bigger boats and grow the boatyard’s job base of local welders, electricians, sheet metal fabricators, hydraulic engineers, mechanics and others who keep the west coast’s fishing fleet in good running order.
Shoemake said it’s usually a good idea to work on fishing and other vessels up and out of the water. That way oils, greases, paint residues or other byproducts of working on boats don’t get into the river. Shoemake said by keeping the Sturgeon Bend Boatyard a green and clean operation, it’ll have a better chance at getting economic development grants and low interest loans to grow the business. He said a number of major boatyards up and down the west coast are having to shut down due to decades of polluting their local waters. Shoemake said Sturgeon Bend will undergo the bit of environmental clean up later this fall and when completed will make the operation increasingly competitive for new customers as other boatyards close down. He added that with the rise in the scale of boat repair operations at the Port of Toledo, other local boat repair businesses should also see an increase in customers since there will be more total boats, large and small, headed for the Yaquina River for what they need to stay safely and productively at sea.
Shoemake said their business plan should be completed by January or February. From there they’ll move forward in considering a financial strategy to begin acquiring the funds to get them the larger boat lifts. Coupled with that will be new storm sewers and wastewater collection systems and improved water service from the city to add a bit more partnership to the enterprise.