Commission Meeting Minutes 8-30-21

Commission Meeting Minutes 8-30-21

(Via Zoom)

August 30, 2021

Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bruce Faires
Jim Orvis

Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager

Vivian Olson, Edmonds City Council
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney


Vice President Preston called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. President Harris chaired the remainder of the meeting.


All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.






Mr. McChesney read the following public comment (received via email from Eileen Kelliher) into the record:

‘I just wanted to put in my two cents as you guide the upcoming project (which I am delighted that you are doing). The wooden walkway has been a lovely surface to walk on for me and my aging body. It even was super helpful post back surgery. I am hoping that the new material would similarly have a “give” to it and not be hard concrete. The concept of glass blocks to get sunlight on the water is fabulous, but would not be very forgiving in terms of impact. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments. I love walking on the waterfront; and even though I’m not in your taxing district, I would totally vote myself in to support this vital engine to Edmonds’ economy and major, major source of charm.”

Joe Scordino, Edmonds, commended the Port staff for the great service they provide at the launcher. He also reported that, under a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) “Adopt-a-Highway” restoration program, a group of volunteers has been working to remove invasive bittersweet nightshade and blackberry along Highway 104. The plants had grown into the fence bordering the highway, blocking and altering water flow into the Edmonds Marsh and preventing fish passage. The fence was removed, as well. There have been nine events, with over 50 different volunteers. Shellebarger Creek now flows openly to the culverts. On the other side of the marsh, the water is now pooling and moving into the marsh as it is supposed to.

Commissioner Preston asked the likelihood of the nightshade growing back. Mr. Scordino acknowledged that it would grow back and would have to be removed every year just to keep the areas where the water flows open. The hope is that improved water flow and deeper water channels will eventually prevent its growth.

Commissioner Faires asked if anything could be done, short of manual labor, that would slow or stop the nightshades’ growth. Mr. Scordino explained that the plant grows as a vine and cannot be controlled with herbicides. All they can do is try and control it in the areas where it is creating problems and hope that the native plants will prevent it from taking over.

Charles Malmgren, Edmonds, inquired if the Port received the comments he submitted via email earlier in the day, and Mr. McChesney answered no. Mr. Mulmgren said he is a sports fisherman and currently has a boat in the Port’s Dry Storage Facility. The rules and fees imposed on Dry Storage tenants have forced him to reevaluate his tenancy. His costs have increased and his access to fishing has decreased. With no positive changes in sight and the prospect of higher costs to come, he can afford, but cannot justify, year-round tenancy. He said he would tow his boat home in September. Mr. Mulmgren voiced concern that the Dry Storage Facility is littered with pinch points, where tenants and staff cannot socially distance. On his last visit on August 27th, he was the only tenant wearing a face covering and keeping a safe distance. He wished his best to the Port staff who work hard to make Dry Storage pleasant, safe and convenient.


Mr. McChesney introduced Jennifer Leach, Program Coordinator for the City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, specializing in environmental education and outreach. He advised that she focuses on managing the Beach Ranger Program and Puget Sound Bird Fest and coordinating stewardship activities in the City’s parks. She particularly enjoys mentoring her young staff and building community through volunteerism. She has an M.S. degree in ecology from the University of Washington, with a focus on invasive species and restoration ecology. Prior to joining the City, she worked as an environmental consultant and a non-profit program manager.

Jennifer Leach, Program Coordinator, City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, explained that wetlands on the landscape are incredibly valuable and function to buffer natural areas (such as the marsh) from adjacent inputs like trash and pollution. She provided pictures showing how many of the marsh’s buffers are very narrow and not well vegetated and pointed out that buffers trap pollutants, infiltrate water that carries toxins, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. She advised that wetland buffers are highly regulated and prescribed by federal, state and local regulations. The Edmonds Marsh has a designated 110-foot buffer, and a wetland delineation was done to identify the exact boundaries of the marsh and where the buffer area begins. She pointed out that most of the buffer area on the east and north sides of the marsh is highly developed, without a lot of vegetation. The buffer area on the south and west sides of the marsh is much more intact in terms of vegetative cover.

Ms. Leach explained that the property within the buffer area around the marsh is under multiple ownership (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF), Unocal, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and Port of Edmonds), which makes it necessary to coordinate a broad, cohesive effort.

Ms. Leach noted that there are a lot of invasive species growing in the marsh, and there are three types of treatment:

• Biological. Introducing another organism to feed on or otherwise impact a particular target invasive.
• Mechanical. Removing the invasive material by hand, cutting, mowing and digging out the roots.
• Chemical. Using an herbicide or pesticide to kill the target invasive.

Ms. Leach shared past and current efforts to control the most common invasive species and restore the marsh and its buffers:

• Purple loosestrife used to be a real problem throughout the marsh. About 15 years ago, a representative from the Snohomish County Noxious Weed Control Board introduced a certain type of beetle into the marsh as a biological control, and the number of purple loosestrife has declined as a result of the treatment.
• There are small pockets of Japanese knotweed in the marsh, and it is very difficult to control. Mechanical control almost never works, and they are now using stem injections, which involves injecting an herbicide into the plant so it goes down into its roots.
• There are large rhizomes underground that are very difficult to get rid of by pulling. These are usually chemically treated.
• Bittersweet nightshade is well established along the WSDOT corridor and some other parts of the marsh. If mechanical control is used, it must be timed right and applied with a licensed applicator. Volunteers are currently working to remove this species in certain areas to improve water flow.
• Volunteers are also working to remove a large blackberry patch between the Harbor Square Athletic Club and Highway 104. The blackberry is well established, and the only way to get it out is via chemical application or mechanical treatment.
• Thick blackberries used to be located on the northern side of the marsh, near the viewing platform. In 2015 Earthcorp removed them and other invasive species and planted a dense community of native vegetation that has now grown to the point that very little maintenance is needed and there is now a dense barrier between the marsh and the litter and pollution influx that comes from that path. The original intent was for Earthcorp to work west from that point. However, the work had to stop until a wetland delineation and restoration plan was in place as required by the City’s Critical Areas Ordinance.
• Sound Salmon Solutions has been doing quite a bit of restoration in the southwest area of the marsh. They also provide environmental education at the fish hatchery.
• A group of volunteers led by Joe Scordino has also been doing a lot of restoration work along the WSDOT corridor.

Ms. Leach cautioned that it was important that the Marsh Restoration Plan was applicable to all areas of the marsh. This allows volunteers to do restoration work within the marsh based on the recommendations and guidelines outlined in the plan. It was also important that the plan was flexible enough to allow work to be done progressively as the opportunities, number of volunteers and financial resources come available. The plan can be implemented by multiple groups over multiple years.

Ms. Leach said the priority focus of the plan was on stormwater infiltration and enhancing wildlife habitat. It was important to consider both the wildlife that uses the native plants in the marsh buffer and the animals in the marsh, itself. In addition to providing audio and visual screening from the urban activities, it was also important to provide viewing corridors through the buffer areas. The marsh is a favorite birding-watching destination, and it was important that the plan specify that view corridors should be preserved.

Ms. Leach reviewed that the wetland delineation included all of the areas of the marsh that the City had access to, which includes all of Port, WSDOT and City property. It did not include the Unocal property. During the field investigation, the consultants made very detailed notes about the condition of the marsh buffer. Based on the conditions they saw on the ground, the buffer was divided into five different areas. Each of the areas are described in the Marsh Restoration Plan, as well as considerations and specific recommendations for planting and restoration. She encouraged the Commissioners to read through the plan to learn more about the current conditions in each of the areas, to gain a better understanding of the visions for restoration and for guidance on how to manage all of the invasive species found in the marsh and its buffer.

Ms. Leach thanked the Port for being so cooperative and supportive throughout the process of developing the plan. She also thanked the Port for being strong advocates for restoration and making it easy for allowing restoration work to be done on Port property. She concluded that restoration of the marsh is very important to many in the community, and a lot has already been accomplished by volunteers. She provided pictures to illustrate the types of work that is being done by volunteer work parties, noting that there is a work party at some park in Edmonds almost every weekend, and there are a lot of opportunities for new stewards. She invited interested individuals to contact her for more information.

Commissioner Harris suggested the Port could help to educate the public about work party opportunities via social media. Ms. Leach agreed that would be fantastic. She asked if the Port would be interested in promoting volunteerism throughout the City, or if the Port is specifically interested in volunteer opportunities that have a nexus to the marsh and the Port. Commissioner Harris answered that while the Port tries to promote across the City, her thought was specifically directed towards work parties related to marsh restoration. Ms. Leach said she anticipates there will be regular work parties now that the Marsh Restoration Plan is finished. However, the pandemic has made it more difficult to organize the events, which require compliance with the City and State rules. Commissioner Harris said she would contact Ms. Leach to share her ideas for highlighting marsh restoration events throughout the year. Ms. Leach suggested that an article in the Port’s newsletter regarding the Marsh Restoration Plan would be helpful and could provide links to the Edmonds Stewards site, as well as other groups who organize work parties at the marsh. Mr. Scordino noted that the volunteer work effort is limited under the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hydraulics Permit. Work in the wetland must conclude by September 15th, which means there will only be three more work parties this year.

Commissioner Preston asked when they will be able to move from marsh restoration to marsh maintenance. Ms. Leach said she doesn’t anticipate reaching that point for a long time. It takes a long time for a plant community to become established. She shared an example of an area where invasive species were removed and native species were planted in 2005. For the first three to five years, volunteers consistently weeded the area and replaced plants that had died. When doing restorations in natural areas, about 50% of the plantings die. After five years, the native plants start to spread and fill in the space. The eventual goal is for the plantings to become dense and established enough so that very little maintenance is needed going forward. She cautioned that, when pulling invasive species, it is important to be realistic about the ability to maintain the area once it is cleared and replanted.

Commissioner Faires asked if there are any plans in place for a specific effort relative to marsh restoration and reclamation next spring or summer to follow up on what has been done so far. Ms. Leach said the City would continue to work with Edmonds Stewards to restore the northern border of the marsh. They will also work with Sound Salmon Solutions on restoration projects in the southwest border of the marsh. She will be meeting on site with the Edmonds Stewards coordinator this week to talk about the next steps. Commissioner Faires suggested that, if the Port uses its newsletter or mailer to advertise volunteer opportunities, they should clearly delineate what volunteers are needed for and when. Ms. Leach responded that she could provide more specific information to the Port once the Edmonds Stewards establish a schedule for their work parties going forward. Mr. Scordino added that his group has a 4-year agreement with WSDOT under the “Adopt-a-Highway” program, but the hydraulics permit only allows them to work in the wetland from June 15th to September 15th each year. They plan to start again in June of 2022. Commissioner Faires suggested that Mr. Scordino communicate his group’s 2022 plans to the Port so the events can be announced in the Port’s various communications media.

Ms. Leach asked Mr. Scordino if anyone from WSDOT’s noxious weed team has worked with him on the best way to control nightshade. Mr. Scordino answered no. They have just given his group approval to do what they can. Ms. Leach suggested that Mr. Scordino refer to the Marsh Restoration Plan, which includes several pages on techniques for controlling nightshade.


Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission was briefed on maintenance issues and the need to replace aging HVAC units on a few buildings at Harbor Square. Twelve units were scheduled for replacement in the 2021 budget and $120,000 was allocated. The project was put out to bid on March 19th for units on Buildings 2 and 5, and the Commission directed staff to enter into a contract with the low bidder, DK Systems, Inc. for $156,050 on April 16th. One unit was removed from the scope upon pre-construction inspection, and this lowered the final cost by $8,411.03. The project was substantially completed on August 13th and the final inspection was done on August 26th. Staff worked with the contractor to minimize disruption to tenants during installation. He recommended the Commission accept the contract with DK Systems, Inc. in the amount $147,638.97 plus sales tax for the Harbor Square Property HVAC Replacement Contract 2021-375 as complete.

Commissioner Preston asked how many more HVAC units need to be replaced at Harbor Square, and Mr. McChesney answered that there are just a few more to replace. He cautioned that the new HVAC units require a lot of maintenance, and the replacement schedule for them is a lot faster than for the units that were placed on the buildings in the 1980s.



Ms. Drennan announced that staff has started working on the 2022 Preliminary Budget. She reviewed that the Commission approves the budget on an annual basis, and the budget is a plan that identifies resources for operations and capital projects, communicates the sources of revenue and costs of services, and allows the Commission and staff to review and prioritize repairs, improvements and other projects. She reminded them that the actual results may differ from the budget due to changed facilities or equipment conditions, changed priorities and changed economic environment. Facilities or equipment may break unexpectedly, and funds may need to be reallocated to pay for the fixes.

Ms. Drennan recalled that the Port implemented the Cash Flow Schedule in 2012 as a method of determining moorage and dry storage rates and planning for future large capital expenditures, such as replacing major marina structures. The Cash Flow Model estimates future cash and investments based upon projected revenues and expenses and known major capital improvements. The Cash Flow Model is the basis for the budget, and the Commission recommended a moorage and dry storage rate increase of Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% in April 2013. The Finance Committee recently reaffirmed that recommendation on August 11th. CPI for All Urban Consumers, All Items in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Area was 5.5% as of June 30, 2021. This calculates to a moorage and dry storage rate increase of 6.5%. This same CPI number is also used for Port revenue increases and staff wage increases.

Ms. Drennan observed that, as proposed, moorage rate increases range from about $15 per month for the smaller slips to $90 per month for the larger slips. For Dry Storage, the average rate increases range from $16 to $24 per month. There is a 25% difference between peak and off-season rates for Dry Storage.

Commissioner Faires reminded the public and tenants that, while this increase may seem large relative to previous years, it is important to keep in mind that CPI has been particularly low for the past several years. If the rate increases over the past five years are averaged with the 2022 increases, the average increase would still be relatively low.

Commissioner Preston pointed out that, over the past 10 years, CPI has increased by 21.3% or an average of 2.13% per year. If they add 1%, as has been the Port’s policy, the average rate increase is 3.13%. The 10-year average rate increase (including the proposed rate increase for 2022) is about 2.13%. He suggested that, rather than a 6.5% increase in 2022, the Port could consider a rolling-average rate increase. He pointed out that the CPI increase was only 3.4% in April and 1.7% in February. Commissioner Orvis cautioned that the rolling average didn’t apply in previous years, so the rate increases were lower. Given the reality of marina maintenance, the rate increases were significantly less than the increases in maintenance costs. He noted that some marinas have deteriorated to the point that they cannot survive because they have artificially held down rates rather than applying realistic rate increases over time. Based on the Port’s long-range program, the CPI plus 1% program is less than the ideal amount needed to care for the marina, and the Port has compensated by being very careful with costs and using its own work force rather than contractors. In order to continue to maintain the marina, the Port will need to charge rates that will support the required maintenance levels. He reminded them that the cost of replacing the breakwater is much higher than anticipated when the initial long-range plan was done. Commissioner Johnston added that the marina and dry storage infrastructure is also aging and requires more maintenance.

Commissioner Faires said he would support the proposed 6.5% rate increase. He observed that Port staff has done a great job of underrunning expenses and overrunning revenue each year, and the intent is that this will continue to improve. He agreed that the maintenance costs of an aging facility will increase. However, rather than predicating the future on disaster, he wants to focus on continuous improvement. He expressed his belief that a yearly increase of CPI plus 1% would suffice until expenses no longer decrease and revenues no longer increase per budget.


Ms. Drennan advised that this item was placed on the agenda so the Commissioners could discuss property taxes and provide guidance for the 2022 Budget. She reported that the Finance Committee met on August 11th and reviewed the funding options for the Administration/Maintenance Building and the North Portwalk and Seawall Projects. To pay for the public portion of the North Portwalk and Seawall Project, the Finance Committee recommends increasing the property tax to the maximum of $600,000, which is a $200,000 increase.

Ms. Drennan reviewed that the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 53.36.020 limits the Port’s property tax to $0.45 per thousand of property value, and Washington State Initiative 747, which was passed in 2001, caps the property tax increase to 1% per year plus new construction. Since 2001, the Port has chosen to levy at less than the maximum regular property tax levy and bank the difference between the two, which allows the Port to step up to the banked amount at some point in the future.

Ms. Drennan advised that the 2021 Property Tax Levy is $400,000, and the Port’s banked capacity is about $194,000. Estimated new construction is about $1,200, which gives a maximum 2021 levy of about $594,938. Using an estimated 1% increase, the estimate 2022 maximum tax levy would be $600,887. If the Commission agrees, staff’s intent would be to increase the tax levy to the maximum.

Ms. Drennan referred to the Tax Levy History (Page 3), which shows the Port’s taxable assessed value, actual tax levy amount and actual tax levy rate (millage rate) from 1990 to projected 2022. The millage rate for 2021 was approximately $.061. The 2022 property tax valuation is based on the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office preliminary values for 2022. If the 2022 tax levy is $600,000, the millage rate would be approximately $0.08.

Commissioner Faires said that, at this time, he does not support the increase in property taxes from $400,000 to $600,000. He said he would like the staff and Finance Committee to show how the increased tax levy is justified. Commissioner Orvis said the Finance Committee is recommending that the additional $200,000 go into the Capital Budget reserve because of the foreseeable cost of the North Portwalk and Breakwater Project. In years past, $200,000 of the tax levy was allocated to Harbor Square, which has now been paid off. Although the Port has significant revenues on hand, the anticipated total cost for the North Portwalk and Breakwater Project, in addition to the Administration/Maintenance Building, will exceed what is currently in reserves. Increasing the tax levy to $600,000 would allow the Port to allocate $400,000 into the capital reserve.

Next, Ms. Drennan referred to the three figures on Page 4 and advised that Figure 1 shows the Edmonds Port District Assessed Value from 1990 to 2022. Figure 2 shows the Port of Edmonds Tax Levy Amount from 1990 to 2022, and Figure 3 shows the Port of Edmonds Tax Levy Rate from 1990 to 2022. Page 5 outlines the proposed programs to be supported by property taxes in 2022. As proposed, $50,000 would be allocated to the launcher, $400,000 to the North Portwalk and Seawall Project, $140,000 to Commissioner costs, and $10,000 to public records requests tools and training.

Ms. Drennan reviewed the graph on Page 6, which shows property taxes compared to CPI increases and 1% increases from 2013 to 2021, and. Page 7 shows the value of property taxes in 2008 dollars, and Page 8 shows a sample of what a tax bill might look like for a Port District resident, specifically noting the estimated tax increase based on property value. The figures on Pages 9 and 10 illustrate the total property tax history from 2016 to 2021 for $800,000, $1 million, and $1.4 million homes in the Port District, the Port property taxes for those same three homes, and the total property taxes for an $800,000 home vs. the Port property taxes for that same home.

Commissioner Johnston said it is important to point out that the actual tax levy amount hasn’t changed since 2008. The Port has some large capital expenses coming up, and the proposed increase is a small price for tax payers to pay to achieve what is proposed for their benefit.

Mr. McChesney reminded the Commissioners that the current budget discussions are intended for the Commission to provide guidance to staff. Actual decisions won’t be made until the budget is voted on by the Commissioners in late October or early November. Commissioner Preston observed that 25 of the tax levy rates over the past 32 years were higher than what the Finance Committee is proposing.


Ms. Drennan referred to the Economic Development and Tourism Expense spreadsheet, which shows the actual results for 2017-2020, projected results for 2021 and the proposed budget for 2022. She noted that activity was reduced in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and its associated restrictions. She reviewed that the spreadsheet shows the different economic development and tourism expense items and where they are located in the budget and financial statements. She reminded them that the Port participates in economic development and tourism through the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County (EASC), Destination Port of Edmonds (DPE), Sea Jazz, the Edmonds Arts Festival and the Edmonds Bird Fest. The Port also invites guests to the Port through advertising in publications and through the Seattle Boat Show. The Port promotes tourism through participation in the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).

Ms. Drennan referred to the budget that was attached to the Staff Report, which was proposed by staff and reviewed by the Finance Committee. However, since the Finance Committee’s review, the Seattle Boat Show budget was increased from $6,000 to $8,000 to fund updates to the backdrop/display. As proposed, a total of $57,900 would be allocated as follows: $5,000 for the EASC membership, $5,000 for DPOE, $3,000 for Sea Jazz, $2,500 for the Edmonds Arts Festival, $1,000 for Bird Fest, $5,000 for other economic development opportunities, $5,000 for tourism and marketing, $5,000 for marina advertising, $3,000 for Port event advertising, $8,000 for Seattle Boat Show, $4,000 for the leasehold tax from the boat show promotion, $4,000 for Family Day at the Port, $3,000 for a holiday event at the marina, $200 for the scarecrow context, $200 for Canva Pro, $1,000 that is unallocated, $500 for WTA membership, and $2,500 for promotional hosting.

Commissioner Orvis thanked Ms. Drennan for her preparation work on the budget. She has laid the information out in a format that is simple for everyone to understand. It definitely makes the Commission’s decision-making process simpler and cleaner. The other Commissioner concurred.


Council Member Olson commented that the marsh restoration work parties have done great work. They will meet again on September 2nd and September 9th, and then wrap up their work for the year on September 11th. It is physical and dirty work, but she finds it very fun. She encouraged others to participate.


Mr. McChesney announced that the North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction Project is at 60% design, which is a major milestone. Staff will be reviewing the documents over the next few weeks before submitting the Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) and Shoreline Substantial Development Permit application. The project is currently on schedule, but they don’t have any idea how long the JARPA process will take.

Mr. McChesney reported that the design work has been completed for the new Administration/Maintenance Building, and building permit applications will be submitted to the City of Edmonds by mid-September. In the meantime, the architect will be invited to provide an update to the staff and Commission pertaining to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiative and the potential of going from LEED Silver to LEED Gold certification.

Mr. McChesney announced that paving work at Harbor Square will start next week. The project will include 7,600 square feet of paving outside the Channel Marker space, as well as about 170 lineal feet of curb replacement. The job should be completed in one or two days.

Commissioner Faires asked if information relative to the new Administration/Maintenance Building would be available for the Commission’s September 13th meeting. Mr. McChesney said that is the goal, but nothing has been scheduled yet. Commissioner Faires asked that the information be presented to the Commission prior to submitting the JARPA and Shoreline Substantial Development Permit applications. Mr. McChesney agreed to make that happen.

Commissioner Johnston asked if the LEED consultant would be able to provide good information and guidance to help the Port Commission and staff assess the project’s progress and make the best decision about whether to pursue LEED Gold or LEED Silver certification. Mr. McChesney said that is the point of the mid-point review with the architect and LEED consultant. Commissioner Johnston asked if staff has any information, at this point, that would suggest that LEED Gold certification would be more difficult to achieve. Mr. McChesney answered that he doesn’t have that information yet. Commissioner Johnston cautioned that, based on a recent news article in THE SEATTLE TIMES, solar panels will be much more difficult and/or costly to obtain. Mr. McChesney said the project is moving forward as if the solar panels will be available at some cost, but they won’t know what that cost will be until the specifications are finalized and the project goes out to bid. The roof system will be designed to carry that load if and when the solar panels become available.


Commissioner Faires reported on his attendance at the last Edmonds Economic Development Commission (EDC) meeting. The meeting that was held to investigate waterfront opportunities was discussed at length, specifically the potential of having tour boats stop in Edmonds. The City’s Economic Development Director has contacted a few tour boat operators, and there appears to be some interest in pursuing these opportunities. There was also considerable discussion about the Parking and Shuttle Committee’s work, and it was reported that because 2020 and 2021 are not good years to use as baselines, they will wait until 2022 to conduct the parking needs survey. A preliminary study was done on a potential parking garage in downtown Edmonds, and it was found to not be particularly viable.

Commissioner Harris referenced an article in THE EDMONDS BEACON about cruise ships that contained a lot of misinformation. She cautioned that they need to be careful about how the discussions are being framed in order to avoid misinformation and commentary that is not based on fact.

Commissioner Orvis reported that he participated in the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPAs) roundtable discussion on grant funding. There is a lot of grant money available, and the Port should be looking for potential opportunities, particularly as it pursues the larger projects that are being planned.

Commissioner Orvis commented to Port Attorney Cattle that Jordan Stephens from the Anderson Hunter Law Group made an excellent presentation on “employment law” at the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chat. Commissioner Johnston agreed that her presentation was well done. Commissioner Orvis noted that people have asked her to repeat and even expand her presentation. Commissioner Preston added that Ms. Stephens’ presentation received rave reviews, and it is likely she will be invited to provide ongoing training relative to employment law. He suggested it would be helpful for the Port Commission to receive refresher training on the Open Public Meetings Act.

Commissioner Orvis announced that the WPPA’s Legislative Committee will meet on September 21st and October 25th to prepare for the upcoming legislative session. The meetings will be held in the conference room at the Port of Kalama and will be available on line, as well as in person.

Commissioner Orvis advised that House Bill 1091 required the Department of Ecology (DOE) to convene a stakeholder meeting to discuss improvements to the Environmental Policy Act, but the meeting was never held. This is a WPPA priority, and they are looking for people to sit on the stakeholders committee as WPPA representatives.

Commissioner Orvis reported that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Army Corps of Engineers are still in disagreement and no permits are being issued for projects. The NMFS is supposed to be processing a batch of biological opinions, but the Corps controls the permits. Representatives Kilmer and Beutler have put out a bipartisan letter to the Biden Administration, asking them to give some attention to the matter. Neither agency has any accountability for what happens and permit approval could be held up for years. He suggested that the Port should work with the WPPA as soon as possible to prepare a letter to Senators Cantwell and Murray, as well as the state representatives, stressing how important it is that this issue get resolved.

Commissioner Johnston reported that he attended the August 11th Finance Committee meeting, as well as the 60% design meeting for the North Portwalk and Seawall Reconstruction Project on August 13th. He also attended the WPPA Grant preparation meeting, where it was reported that there is a lot of money available. Unfortunately, the presentation focused on money that probably won’t be widely available to ports. The focus was more on communities and big transportation projects.

Commissioner Johnston reported that he and Commissioner Harris attended the EASC’s Summer Social on August 26th at the Echo Falls Golf Course. It was fun, and they were able to make connections with an outfit that is providing interpretive signage for the Port of Everett. This might be another option as they get closer to the finishing details on the North Portwalk Project. Lastly, he announced that he would attend the WPPA’s Environmental Committee meeting on September 17th.

Commissioner Preston referred to the EDC’s parking survey, which was referenced earlier by Commissioner Faires. He commented that a survey should be a scientific data processing system, and the City’s recent “surveys” have been more like questionnaires. He suggested the City should make this distinction clear. With the questionnaire format, the same person could enter data 25 times, swaying the information without the City knowing that.

Commissioner Preston said he attended the Taste of Edmonds, as well as the Patron’s Party at the Edmonds Arts Festival. The car show is coming up on September 12th.

Commissioners Preston commented that the WPPA’s Covid 19 meeting was insightful with a lot of different perspectives. He reported that he also attended the Downtown Edmonds Merchant’s Association (DEMA) meeting on August 12th where it was reported that the City might start charging for the service of collecting dues for the Edmonds Downtown Alliance (ED). It was also reported that there is $11 million of rescue money to be allocated n grants over the next four years. It was brought up that this funding could possibly help with trolley purchase.

Commissioner Preston said he received a call from a police officer friend who used to be on the dive team, asking if the Port had any concerns about potential future incidents after the airplane went down near the marina. He responded that the Port didn’t have any concerns going forward, as the plane went down outside of the breakwater. He noted that Police Chief Bennett has indicated an interest in reinstituting the dive team, but equipment upgrades will be needed.

Commissioner Orvis said he has heard that some ports and public agencies are having problems with hybrid meetings (in-person and Zoom), and the Port needs to make sure that all required procedures are being followed. The real challenge has been providing opportunities for the public to speak. While the Port has done well, other agencies are struggling.

Port Attorney Cattle agreed with Commissioner Preston that an Open Public Meetings Act primer is an excellent idea. Ms. Stephens is very knowledgeable and could provide this training at a future meeting. He said he, Mr. McChesney, Ms. Drennan, Ms. Michaud and Commissioner Harris are focused on making sure that the hybrid meetings are being operated correctly.

Commissioner Harris reported that she was asked to participate on the City’s 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan Committee. An update to the plan is currently in progress. She wasn’t able to attend the group session, and the City’s consultant has agreed to have a one-on-one conversation with her. In an effort to present the Commission’s collective feedback, she asked that the Commissioners share their thoughts on a list of questions that were presented at the group session. She said she would forward the list of questions to Mr. McChesney to disseminate to the Commissioners.


The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Steve Johnston
Port Commission Secretary