Commission Meeting Minutes 9-14-20

Commission Meeting Minutes 9-14-20

(Via Zoom)           September 14, 2020

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

Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Marketing

Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney


President Orvis called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


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






There were no public comments.


Mr. McChesney reported that there has been no action taken by the Executive Director under the special emergency authority to date.


Mr. McChesney reviewed that Port staff conducted a visual inspection of the Mid-Marina Breakwater in the spring of 2019. At that time, they observed some deterioration in the wooden horizontal slats, and repairs were made. In order to fully understand the issues and concerns as to the structural integrity of the breakwater, the Port engaged the professional engineering services of PND to perform a comprehensive condition survey (See report attached to Staff Report). The scope of work was limited to the wooden slats in the central section, and they recommended the following repair alternatives:

1. The lowest-cost alternative was to replace the timbers above the 10-foot elevation ($104,000).
2. The next lowest-cost alternative was to replace the timbers above and below the 10-foot elevation ($361,000).
3. The third alternative would use a combination of wooden timbers above 10 feet and plastic timber below 10 feet ($394,000).
4. The fourth alternative would use pre-cast concrete panels slotted into the vertical steel H-piles ($663,000).

Mr. McChesney said the choice of alternatives was dependent upon the remaining useful life of the steel batter piles. PND originally suggested that the condition of the steel was average and the remaining life was about 15 years. However, they recommended that Norton Corrosion do a lifecycle analysis on the remaining life of the steel before proceeding with repairs. Norton Corrosion was hired to do a follow up assessment to address the condition of the steel this past spring, and they concluded, “For all portions of the breakwater walls examined, if the service remains the same, the steel structures are likely to have 25 plus years of remaining service life. This is assuming that the coating is repaired where necessary and the cathodic protection levels remain good. The hole in the upper part of the north wall should also be repaired and recoated.”

Mr. McChesney advised that staff is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive long-term maintenance plan for the Mid-Marina Breakwater. The first issue is to repair the cathodic protection system and make sure it is functioning properly. The work would be completed in 2020 at an estimated cost of $35,000. Commissioner Orvis asked if the Port has a way to test whether or not the cathodic system is working. Mr. McChesney said an annual inspection is done, and the most recent one found that the system is no longer working. However, at this time, there is no indicator system that shows whether or not the cathodic system is operating. Adding an indicator system might be worth considering at some point in the future since the cathodic system is integral to protecting the steel elements from aggressive corrosion. The Commission agreed they would like the bid to include a cost estimate for an indicator system.

Mr. McChesney said the second issue is to repair exposed steel where coating has worn away and corrosion appears to be more aggressive. Other items include scaling off rust and loose debris, welding patches where necessary, and priming and recoating as required. The more routine maintenance, including inspections and replacing rotted-out wooden slats and spot welding/coating, can be done by Port maintenance staff.

Commissioner Orvis voiced concern that the Mid-Marina Breakwater maintenance could consume a significant amount of staff time. He questioned if continuing to maintain the existing structure inhouse for the next 25 years is the best approach, as it could put a significant burden on the maintenance crew.

Commissioner Faires suggested it would be appropriate to choose the option for the wooden elements that would that most resembles the estimated 25-year lifespan of the steel elements. He would prefer to replace the Mid-Marina Breakwater all at once. Mr. McChesney agreed. Over the next few years, he would recommend they replace boards as they fail and do routine maintenance. The structure seems to be in pretty good shape as long as they take care of some incidental problems.

Mr. McChesney commented that not all of the wood slats are bad, and they don’t all go bad at the same time. The Port can replace a number of them each year, as is required. But he doesn’t think the situation calls for a wholesale replacement of every one of the horizontal timber members. A large percentage of them are still sound, and the bad ones are those in the intertidal zone. The replacement work is not so onerous that it can’t be done on a routine basis. Maintenance crews can also patch and coat the steel elements as needed. He suggested they test the maintenance plan for a time.

Commissioner Faires asked if the estimated cost of undertaking a modest retrofit of the timbers but leaving the steel component alone would be about $200,000 to $300,000. Mr. McChesney said he doesn’t have an answer to that question. The lowest cost alternative was to replace the timbers above the 10-foot elevation at $104,000. He would like to implement a more cautious strategy and maintain and replace as necessary.

Commissioner Johnston observed that, as per the report, about 80% of the structural timber is in good shape. The remaining 20% is either in fair shape or less. Given that the poor timbers represent a relatively small portion of the entire structure, taking an educated approach of replacing the timbers as required would be a prudent course to follow, especially if the condition is monitored on an annual or bi-annual basis. Completely replacing the elements would be a $350,000 to $650,000 project. Given the upcoming boardwalk improvements and other large capital projects on the docket for the next five years, he would favor a more cautious approach that may cost $50,000 over the next five years. Mr. McChesney agreed and said the Port could budget for replacement of a certain portion each year. If the condition of the breakwater starts to deteriorate at a faster pace, they could consider a more aggressive approach.

Commissioner Faires asked how much of the effort would involve removing the rip rap to access the lower timbers. Mr. McChesney said he doesn’t anticipate that rip rap would be removed until the entire breakwater is replaced. The rip rap is currently sound and provides a good footing for the structure. Peeling it back would create permitting and environmental issues. He noted that the failure mode is above the rip rap in the intertidal zone, and he would be extremely cautious about moving the rip rap around.

Commissioner Orvis said the maintenance plan appears to be a good approach, but it will only work if there is a continuous effort to inspect the breakwater and make repairs as soon as they are identified. While much of the work can be done inhouse, at some point the work may exceed the capabilities of the maintenance staff. If that occurs, they will need to consider other options. Mr. McChesney said that is the intent of the long-range maintenance plan that is currently being created. At this stage, there is a reasonable amount of inhouse capacity to address the issues. If the work cannot be done inhouse, they can consider other options.


Ms. Williams reviewed that the Environmental Committee decided to add a pest management component to the environmental plan, and the project was spearheaded by Commissioners Harris and Johnston. The purpose was to address how the Port handles pests, both in the form of landscape maintenance and also rodent control. She read the following portion of the plan’s introduction statement, which provides a brief overview:

“Our IPMP approach is intended to protect the balance of natural systems at the Port and to keep unnecessary chemicals out of the environment through the implementation of an adaptive approach to controlling pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, and plant diseases. The Port employs natural and evaluative processes for pest control to minimize damage to the landscape and the surrounding environment. Chemical treatments are used on a limited basis, with the least toxic chemicals preferred (as determined by manufacturer, agency and Port testing).

The Port’s IPMP approach strives to achieve long-term, sustainable prevention of pest problems through regular monitoring to determine when treatment is needed. Public safety and short and long-term cost effectiveness are also considered when deciding among prevention and treatment options.

Our IPMP approach primarily is applied through landscaping maintenance and animal pest control activities undertaken on Port property.”

Ms. Williams advised that, in addition to the introductory statement, the plan includes the following elements:

• The Areas of Port Maintenance Responsibility section outlines where maintenance is performed through Port properties.
• The Port IPMP Activities section lays out the responsibilities of the full-time landscape maintenance worker, and the activities performed on a day-to-day basis, including grass maintenance, plant and flower bed maintenance, tree trimming and pruning, planting annuals and perennials, and pesticide and herbicide application as needed. The Port’s landscape maintenance staff has a State Certified Applicator License, and this section describes the approach to take related to herbicide application.
• The Making Pest Control Decisions section discusses how pest control decisions are made, weighing effectiveness with cost efficiency and environmental impact.

Ms. Williams said the idea is to make the IPMP a component of the Environmental Plan and to make it available for review on the Port’s website.

Commissioner Johnston thanked his fellow Environmental Committee members (Commissioner Harris, Brandon Baker, Bob McChesney, Brittany Williams) for helping put the plan together. It required pulling together a lot of disparate types of information from a variety of ports, and Commissioner Harris and Ms. Williams were particularly valuable pulling together what the Port does compared to what other ports do. Most ports do not have a plan yet, which sets the Port of Edmonds at the top of the pyramid of environmental practices among public ports in the State of Washington.

Commissioner Faires asked what processes and practices would change as a result of the plan. Commissioner Johnston responded that the plan makes a few tweaks to the Port’s current practices, but nothing significant. It primarily memorializes practices the Port has been doing for a number of years. The Port has a reputation of being very cognizant of environmental policies and procedures and changing regulations, and they have been readily incorporated into the environmental documents and manuals.

Commissioner Faires said he learned during the last election that it isn’t so much what the Port does that’s a problem, it’s the fact that they haven’t publicized their actions adequately. He applauded the effort to put in place policies and procedures that are forward-thinking.


Mr. Baker said he has participated on the NMTA’s Grow Boating Committee for a number of years, and has a year left on his term as a voting member. He explained that the committee’s goals align with several points found within the Port of Edmonds Mission Statement, including supporting youth programs and providing private entrepreneurs opportunities to serve the boating community. He referred to information that was attached to the Staff Report outlining the committee’s purpose within the Pacific Northwest Region and summarizing the nationwide efforts made by Discover Boating. Discover Boating does big campaigns aimed at increasing the number of boaters and encouraging current boaters to boat more often.

Mr. Baker said the committee promotes boating annually by creating events, funding grants, and publishing public relation campaigns. One of their biggest accomplishments has been partnerships with KING5 and Evening Magazine. They’ve run about a dozen stories each year, all based around boating. The Freedom Boat Club, one of the Port’s big commercial customers, is heavily involved, and stories have been done to promote the boat-share programs. The committee sponsors events and works to raise awareness about the boating lifestyle.

Commissioner Preston asked how the Port could participate in the free boat riding events. Mr. McChesney recalled that the Freedom Boat Club offered free boat rides during the Port’s Family Day last summer. Hopefully, that can continue when the event takes place again. Mr. Baker commented that many of the programs that the committee promotes have been adjusted or put on hold as a result of the pandemic. A hard date of November 1st has been set for a final decision on the 2021 Seattle Boat Show. There will be a virtual component, regardless of the decision made for the in-person event. Mr. McChesney said the Port’s planning effort for the boat show has been put on hold until a final decision has been made by the NMTA.

Commissioner Orvis noted the unfortunate accidents and lives lost as people are swimming and boating without life jackets. He asked about potential safety education programs. Mr. McChesney responded that the NMTA offers a Boater Education and Safety Grant Program. Mr. Baker said the NMTA is always looking for opportunities to educate the public about boater safety.

Commissioner Orvis asked if the Port has a program for checking the lifejackets that are were made available via an Eagle Scout Program to make sure they are safe for use. Mr. McChesney responded that the Port could do a better job of monitoring to make sure they are ready, available, and do what they are supposed to do. Commissioner Faires agreed that it is important to ensure that the lifejackets are safe and functional. He suggested the Port is somewhat liable since it sponsored the Eagle Scout project. Ms. Drennan noted that the safety inspection is supposed to be performed by the Sea Scouts as part of their contract with the Port.


Mr. McChesney reported that Port staff is currently working to prepare the 2021 budget, and they continue to work with the tenants throughout the pandemic and smoke situations. He announced that the Public Access and Communications Committees will meet on September 16th.

Ms. Drennan advised that she would schedule a Finance Committee meeting to review the draft 2021 budget sometime during the week of September 28th. A formal email will be sent to the committee members later in the week.


Commissioner Harris said she has participated in a number of Washington Public Port Association (WPPAs) virtual meetings. At one event, scientists from the Strike Team for the Washington State Department of Health provided a presentation that focused on typical responses, reactions and behavioral health symptoms during disasters and what to expect over the next several months. She shared the presentation with her team at work, and she felt it would be helpful for the Port staff, as well. She offered to provide a summary as invited.

Commissioner Harris reported that she has attended some of the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chats. In addition, she plans to attend a Save Our Marsh meeting later in the week, as well as the Communications and Public Access Committee meetings on September 16th. Lastly, she said she would participate in the WPPA’s Environmental Conference next week.

Commissioner Preston said he recently drove to LaConnor and spent some time at a Yacht Club event. They had a TGI Friday event that was quite fun. He announced that the Coho Derby was on September 12th, and the winning salmon was 9.2 pounds. There were 300 boats, and 700 licensed fishermen brought in about 150 fish.

Commissioner Preston announced that the Harbor Square Athletic Club is open and is not at capacity. He also announced that the street parklets on Main Street that are being used for restaurant seating will be eliminated in mid-October.

Commissioner Preston said he has attended some of the virtual WPPA and Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA) meetings. He will also attend the WPPA’s Environmental Conference.

Commissioner Faires advised that he would attend the Edmonds Economic Development Commission Meeting on September 16th.

Commissioner Johnston said he will also participate in the WPPA’s Environmental Conference, as well as the Public Access and Communications Committee meetings. He said he has participated in a number of the WPPA’s virtual roundtables, where participants were introduced to the new Director of the Department of Ecology. Although she pledged her full support to ports, the department heads were less optimistic. The best news for public ports, in general, is that Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) funding is fairly sacrosanct, and the legislature won’t tap into it for other reasons.

Commissioner Johnston thanked Mr. McChesney and the Port staff for putting out the boater’s pledge to stand off farther from orcas. He noted that 1,000 yards is more than what the new regulation requires. He recalled that there was a beautiful drive-by of the orcas just a few days ago, as they came right down the waterfront. They need to be respected and people need to stand off from them. He was able to watch from his own yard. While some people were getting close, he didn’t see the transgressions that some people reported. When boats got close enough to see them, they immediately backed off or took a wide berth. He announced that Tahlequah had a successful calf, and they hope that two more are coming.

Commissioner Faires asked if Puget Sound Express (PSE) has curtailed its whale-watching efforts per the recommendations that have been made. Mr. McChesney said he hasn’t talked to them about that specifically, but they have been operating all summer. Commissioner Johnston advised that PSE and other whale-watching operations are strong supporters of the regulations, and they follow the rules and respect the animals.

Commissioner Orvis asked if the new transformer vault would provide sufficient power that the Port can consider increasing the capacity on some of the docks. Mr. McChesney answered affirmatively. He explained that the fundamental problem is that there is no redundant service on the waterfront. If there is an outage, everyone is out. The new transformer is one step in creating a redundant circuit. The Port will be coordinating closely with the Snohomish County Public Utility District, and he is certain there will be sufficient power on the upland side to upgrade the marina. However, secondary transformers and Feeders will need to be installed, as well, in order to get the power down to the docks. This work is on the menu of activities.

Commissioner Orvis commented that, although the Commission meeting agendas have been small, there is a lot going on at the Port. Staff has worked hard and will continue to do so. He thanked the staff for all they have done and continue to do to get the Port through this difficult time. They are keeping the marina and the Port viable.

Commissioner Orvis said he learned that, in addition to the pandemic, suicides have significantly increased. He encouraged everyone to take care of both their mental and physical health. Mr. McChesney commented that this relates to Commissioner Harris’ earlier report on a presentation that focused on responses, reactions and behavioral health symptoms during disasters. He said he would work with Commissioner Harris to make the information available to the Port staff.


The Commission meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

David Preston,  Port Commission Secretary