A consultant working on a plan to expand the Port of Toledo’s Sturgeon Bend Boatyard gave port commissioners basically two ways to go this week. Build a rail system to haul out bigger boats than the port’s been able to work on so far, or buy a 300 ton portable lift system which would do the same thing. The consultant said the rail system has large lift capacity, it’s simple and works for many sizes of boats. But he added that the rail lift handles only one boat at a time, mixes small and big boat work areas, and building the thing would require major construction in the slough which will be hard to get permission to do and then be susceptible to an array of environmental protection regulations.
On the other hand, the consultant said, a travel-lift, capable of lifting 300 tons is probably the better choice. It can lift small boats and big boats and move them to appropriate work areas including the nine work zones just north of the proposed sanding and paint shop. The consultant emphasized that the travel-lift would make working in the boatyard’s limited space as efficient as possible, getting the most boats in and out quickly, which means good revenue flow to workers and to the port.
The consultant went over the costs for the travel lift and everything that would go with it. The list includes the lift pier, site electrical, strengthening the work surfaces, site preparation, sewer/utilities, the sand blasting, paint and repair shop, boat yard office, break room and restrooms and the lift itself ($1.5 million) for a grand total of around $7 million.
Comments from a small number of the public included former Toledo City Councilwoman Frankie Trujillo-Dalby and her husband Bill who complained that when they bought their home on the hill above the boat yard, they never dreamed that it would ever be resurrected, complete with a big sanding and paint shop rising up to partially obstruct their view. They said the noise and fumes would lower their property values and would make it impossible to ever sell their home. Port officials replied that the port has always been dedicated to economic development and that the site is designated as a boatyard and that it’s moving forward. As for the complaints about the sanding and paint shops, they said there are strict environmental controls on paint fumes escaping to the outside and that the shop’s location on the plans is just that..on a plan. Plans are flexible. Port Manager Bud Shoemake chimed in saying “All of this is not going to happen overnight. We’re talking three to five years out, based on funding. So we’ve got time to work on details.”
The Port Commissioners were told that the travel lift configuration could easily double the boatyard’s monthly run of boats (currently up to 30 a month) with even higher revenues from the much larger boats that they will be able to handle.
So, the future looks bright for the Port of Toledo as long as they can find funding for the lion’s share of the $7 million price tag. A number of Oregon state funding sources are going to be approached, funds which focus on economic development, port creation and expansion, transportation and family wage jobs. The consultant added, however, that one major issue looming on the horizon is that local schools and colleges must begin gearing up to train tomorrow’s boatwrights, electricians, engineers and painters, because many of today’s workers are nearing retirement.
Toledo Port Commissioners will soon hold another public meeting on the boatyard master plan, after which they’ll vote to move forward and begin tracking down the dollars to make it happen. Again, they’ve given themselves a five year window to get everything in place.