Commission Meeting Minutes 9-26-22

Commission Meeting Minutes 9-26-22

(Via Zoom)   September 26, 2022

David Preston, President
Steve Johnston, Vice President
Jim Orvis, Secretary
Jay Grant
Angela Harris

Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Economic Development

Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Neil Tibbott, Edmonds City Council


President Preston 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.


Ms. Williams shared pictures that were taken during the Sea Notes events as she reviewed that Sea Jazz was created in the summer of 2012 with the intention of providing high school musicians the opportunity to perform in a public setting. In 2021, the program was expanded to include local, professional jazz musicians, as well. Building upon the success and positive feedback from 2021, the program was developed even further in 2022 with the introduction of additional genres of music. The program name was changed to Sea Notes at the Marina to encompass all of this summer’s performers.

Ms. Williams further reviewed that, new to 2022, was Songwriter Sundays, which featured local singer-songwriters playing in the plaza on Sunday afternoons. Guitarist Lito Castro performed on Saturday evenings and played everything from Hawaiian music to classic rock. Deep Sea Jazz Jam Sessions were back for the second year in a row to fill the Friday night spot. High school musicians from Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds-Woodway and Lynnwood High Schools were featured in jazz combos and jams throughout the summer during weekday performances. Sea Notes also featured special performances from Edmonds/Woodway High School Jazz Colony, Edmonds School District Honor Jazz Band, directed by Jake Bergevin, and Steel Magic Northwest (steel drum band). All Sea Note performances took place at the Mary Lou Block Public Plaza.

Ms. Williams summarized that the Port strives to provide an informal music venue accessible by all. Walkers and diners in the area are encouraged to enjoy the tunes as they walk or dine nearby. Through local advertising, community members were also encouraged to attend. Press releases ran in My Edmonds News and The Edmonds Beacon, and advertising was done on Facebook and in My Edmonds News. Posters were displayed around Port property, and Sea Notes was featured on the Port’s website, social media and newsletter.

Ms. Williams advised that the Port took on the role as the primary sponsor of Sea Notes by providing the venue, event promotion, and program oversight. However, the success of this year’s program can be attributed to the talented musicians who took part and the individuals who coordinated all the details behind the scenes. She specifically thanked the following individuals:

• Pete Bennett was the main Program Coordinator and worked tirelessly to manage the schedule, coordinate musicians, promote performances and organize all performance logistics. The growth of Sea Notes can be attributed to the enthusiasm and dedication that Mr. Bennett has for bringing great music to the community.
• Rachel Gardner coordinated and managed the Songwriter Sundays. She curated an extremely talented line-up of local musicians for this new program feature.
• Jake Bergevin, Director of Bands and Department Chairperson at Edmonds-Woodway High School, coordinated, performed and conducted all summer long.
• Anthony’s Restaurants was the other Sea Notes Program sponsor, generously providing each performer with a voucher for a complimentary meal and beverage. Anthony’s Manager, Blake Ulin, made all of the musicians feel welcome when performing in the plaza and worked with the program coordinators on schedule logistics.
• Numerous Musicians shared their time and talents with the community.

As accounted for in the 2022 Budget, Ms. Williams advised that a $2,000 stipend will be paid to the Edmonds-Woodway Music Boosters Program on behalf of Pete Bennett and in exchange for the work he provided as the Sea Notes Program Coordinator for the 2022 summer program.

Pete Bennett, Sea Notes Program Manager, said a lot of people participated in making the 2022 program a success. He said it was great to offer a variety of music genres, and he hopes that even more variety can be added in coming years. He noted that the very last event featured a chamber group from Edmonds-Woodway High School. He summarized that not only does the program support music as an art form and provide an opportunity for young musicians to perform, a number of professional musicians were also able to share their talents, as well. He said he plans to continue the coordinating the program, making more improvements going forward. He advised that the Hazel Miller Foundation, Hubbard Foundation, Kennelly Keys and Edmonds-Woodway Music Boosters have all offered support to music programs in the community, and he plans to continue to seek additional sponsors.

Rachel Gardner, Coordinator and Manager of Songwriter Sundays, commented that, as a musician living in Edmonds, it is surprisingly hard to book gigs in your hometown. Most of the amazing music that comes to Edmonds is provided by musicians who live out of town. All of the participants in Songwriter Sundays were local musicians. These were talented, professional musicians who wanted to perform for their hometown audience. She hopes to grow the program in coming years.

Commissioner Orvis said he had an opportunity this year to see how valuable the Sea Notes Program is. It is important to recognize how hard the students had to work to practice and develop their talents during the pandemic. The opportunity to perform during the summer with their group, as well as in jam sessions, has been invaluable to the students and it demonstrates some high-quality people.

Mr. McChesney gave a shout out to Commissioner Preston, who was the Godfather of Sea Jazz. Coordinating all the musicians is one thing, but the logistics (moving equipment around) is very challenging, as well. He commended Mr. Bennett and his team for their hard work. Mr. Bennett shared how impressive it was to watch the young musicians interact with the more experienced musicians, as it tends to motivate the younger musicians to get better. He also commented on the enthusiasm that Jake Bergevin had this year, bringing student groups to the plaza for Wednesday performances.

Commissioner Preston asked if the Port has been able to tie the Sea Notes Program in with the Edmonds Arts District events. Ms. Williams said she is on the Creative Arts Committee, which is still a work in progress. Currently, the emphasis is on signage on 4th Avenue, and they haven’t started the process of building all of the various events into their calendar. However, the Sea Notes events were advertised on the Arts Events Calendar.


Ms. Williams introduced Sarah Hanke, Director of Sales and Business Development for Puget Sound Express (PSE), who was present to provide an overview of PSE’s 2022 operations. The review will include information on wildlife and conservation partners, as well as tourism insight of the typical PSE guest. She advised that Ms. Hanke grew up in the greater Puget Sound area and is part of the Hanke family, who has owned and operated PSE for over 35 years. She originally started working for PSE in 2001 before attending Whitworth University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Before returning to PSE, she worked as an event planner and sales manager at The Resort at Port Ludlow.

Ms. Williams continued that Ms. Hanke now oversees corporate group business, daily operations, and public relations for PSE. As owners of one of the oldest whale-watching companies in the region, she and her family were among the founding members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association and one of the first companies to establish and honor whale-watching guidelines in the region. She also serves on the Visit Seattle Partner Roundtable to discuss tourism in the Seattle area that is generated from conventions, cruise ships and out-of-town guests.

Ms. Williams advised that PSE offers whale and wildlife excursions departing from Edmonds and Port Townsend. Riders enjoy cruising speeds of up to 40 mph on the Saratoga and Swiftsure vessels as they are transported throughout the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands. PSE has been a tenant at the Port of Edmonds since 2015. In 2021, PSE had over 32,000 guests departing on whale-watching tours from Edmonds.

Sarah Hanke, Director of Sales and Business Development for Puget Sound Express, announced that, so far in 2022, PSE has run 265 tours out of Edmonds for whale watching, and whales have been spotted during all but one of them. Because the boat is fast and can go any direction (San Juan Islands, Victoria B.C., and Olympia), PSE has had a lot of success finding wildlife. She explained that there are two types of whales they frequently see, Orcas and Humpbacks. Humpbacks have an every-other-year effect, and this year was a boom year. Instead of going out to see one humpback, they were able to see twenty. Each year, more generations of humpbacks are returning, so the population is growing. As long as there is food in the region, this trend will likely continue. The Biggs Orca population is also growing. There are heightened seal and sea lion populations in the region, and Biggs Orcas feed on them. They have also seen sea otters this far south, which is unusual. As part of Edmonds Birdfest, PSE was able to take people to Smith Island where they saw about a dozen puffins.

Ms. Hanke reported that the fishing vessel that sank off the San Juan Islands this year spilled oil for almost 30 days before it was pulled out of the water. This happened in an area that was heavily populated with wildlife. For the most part, the communication between the Coast Guard Response Team, Department of Fish and Wildlife and whale-watch operators was good throughout the event.

Ms. Hanke said PSE served about 32,000 guests in 2021 from Edmonds, and they are currently at about 21,000 for 2022. She anticipates the total 2022 number will be about 28,000. Fuel prices and the economy have really played a part in people’s ability to spend on extra-curricular activities. In addition, another operation in Seattle has started offering whale watching. They offer half-day trips, but their boat has a maximum speed of 25 knots and doesn’t have the range of PSE’s boats. While PSE’s reviews significantly outpace this company, its location in Seattle is at the heart of the cruise ship and hotel guests.

Ms. Hanke announced that PSE’s new vessel, Swiftsure, came online in July, which increased capacity from 122 guests to 145 guests. They have had some VIP guests on board this year from KING 5, KOMO 4, the Associated Press and various travel writers. Their group reservation program is still getting going, as people are still hesitant to gather in indoor spaces. A new reservation system in downtown Seattle called Summit is expected to double the groups coming to Seattle starting in 2023, and people are starting to plan for more group business starting next year.

Ms. Hanke said she had an opportunity to tour the Edmonds Waterfront Center, which is a beautiful building. She talked to them about the possibility of combining whale watching with group business in Edmonds, pulling people from Edmonds to patronize the local businesses.

Ms. Hanke summarized that, overall, PSE has had a good year. They haven’t received any negative reviews, and they have received a number of 5-star reviews, which can be attributed to PSE’s staff. They work hard to make every trip memorable.

Mr. McChesney asked Ms. Hanke how many of PSE’s passengers are local from the Puget Sound area. Ms. Hanke said that is tricky to determine because a lot of guests from Puget Sound are bringing out-of-town guests. She estimated that about 80% of their guests are visitors to the Seattle area and the remaining 20% are local.

Commissioner Preston asked if PSE has participated in any other local events, similar to Birdfest. Ms. Hanke said PSE plans to operate through the holiday season, and the open houses they offered pre-pandemic were popular. She asked if the Argosy Christmas Ship would be coming to the Edmonds Marina this year. Ms. Williams answered no, and said she doesn’t believe Edmonds will be included in the ship’s stops going forward. Ms. Hanke said PSE plans to run daily trips through the end of October, and three days a week in November and December (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays).

Mr. McChesney commented that PSE has been a very welcome addition to the Port of Edmonds and the entire community. He applauded their efforts and their continued success. Ms. Hanke said she is excited about the Port’s current development plans, and she hopes that the new Administration/Maintenance Building Project will include a crosswalk over Admiral Way.

The Commission had a brief discussion with Ms. Hanke about the possibility of PSE conducting an open house as part of a Port event during the holidays. Ms. Williams said Port staff has talked about having a similar event as in previous years, but without the Argosy Christmas Ship. She agreed to reach out to PSE to discuss the opportunity further.


Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Port went out to bid for asphalt repairs at Harbor Square on July 29th, but there were no responsive bidders. Subsequently, the Port approached Superior Asphalt and obtained a proposal for repairs, and a contract was awarded. He explained that, as long as the Port goes through the process of soliciting bids, they can choose a contractor if no bids are received. The work was completed by September 19th to the satisfaction of the Director of Facilities and Maintenance, who declared the work complete. The notification is being brought before the Commission for formal acceptance of work as complete. Once accepted by the Commission, the Port will file a Notice of Completion of Public Work and coordinate with the state agencies regarding retainage release.

Commissioner Preston asked why the Port didn’t receive any bids, and Mr. McChesney answered that the job is quite small and contractors are busy. Commissioner Johnston asked for information about the scope of work. Mr. McChesney said pieces were cut out and the subgrade was repaired as needed. Commissioner Johnston asked how much of the area was repaired, and Mr. McChesney answered just under 10,000 feet. They also did some improvements to the ADA accessible ramps. Commissioner Orvis asked when the entire parking lot would be refurbished. Mr. McChesney explained that when the work is done in sections, you end up starting over again after all of the sections have been finished. Commissioner Grant asked if the work includes a sealant. Mr. McChesney explained that, because the subgrade is so poor and there is a lot of alligatoring and cracking, a seal coat would not do what it is designed to do. Commissioner Johnston added that a seal coat doesn’t have a significant life, either.

Mr. McChesney recommended the Commission approve the contract with Superior Asphalt in the amount of $44,962.50 plus sales tax for the Harbor Square Asphalt Repair Contract Number 2022-430 as complete.



Mr. McChesney reviewed that, as previously discussed, this agreement pertains to the Fishing Pier parking lot, which is co-owned by the Port and the City of Edmonds. The ownership is equal and undifferentiated. The obligations of each party are stipulated in the Parking Lot Agreement dated February 4, 1982. Subsequently, the City has added various utilities and appurtenances to support the Fishing Pier and other local City infrastructure, such as the Tsunami Warning Siren. Since the parking lot is jointly owned without differentiation, the requirement for specific easements to support these physical improvements may not be strictly necessary. However, it is necessary for the good order and management of the property to obtain some type of written documentation to memorialize the arrangements.

Mr. McChesney referred to the draft agreement, which was attached to the Staff Report. He reviewed that the agreement was initially presented to the Commission for approval on August 29, 2022 as a Consent Agenda item. Upon further review, the Commission remanded the draft to an action item at a subsequent Commission meeting for additional discussion. Several potential flaws to the draft agreement were identified and tagged for revision. Necessary changes have since been made, with review and concurrency by Port Counsel, and the edits are shown in redline format. The City of Edmonds has agreed to accept the changes as presented to them. He recommended the Commission approve the Agreement Regarding Jointly-Owned Parking Lot between the City and Port as revised and presented.



Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission declared an emergency on August 4, 2022 with Resolution Number 22-03 to address electrical repairs on N-Dock in mid marina that needed to be done immediately. The resolution allocated $100,000 and waived competitive bidding. In the interim, supply chain delays for pedestal breaker parts offered an opportunity to do a megger test of the line to determine exactly where the failure is. The scope of work was revised, and the Port took advantage of the delay to solicit contractors. They received two proposals, but one was deemed unresponsive because the contractor could not provide Longshore and Harbor Workers Insurance, which is required for in-water work. The Port issued a contract to Valley Electric Company of Mount Vernon for $55,986 plus tax. Substantial completion is anticipated by October 31st. However, supply delays may extend this date.

Commissioner Grant asked if the Port is looking ahead at other potential electrical problems. Mr. McChesney answered that the intent is to inspect all of the feeders going forward and make improvements, as needed. He said they are discovering that nearly all of the junction boxes will need to be replaced, as they are all original equipment, and inferior installation methods were used.

Commissioner Grant noted that there is significant grant funding available for projects of this type. As the work will be moving forward in the near term, he suggested the Port submit grant applications, as appropriate.

Mr. McChesney summarized that the Port has received good cooperation from the Edmonds Yacht Club, and Marina Operations staff did an excellent job moving boats around during the Coho Derby event, trying to find places with power and accommodating the customers.


Council Member Tibbott thanked the Port Commission and staff for the great partnership they have with the City of Edmonds. He said he enjoyed the presentations related to the Sea Notes Program and Puget Sound Express. He announced that Senior Planner, Mike Clugston, has been elevated to become the City’s code writer. The City has committed to completing the Development Code Updates by the end of 2024, which coincides with completion of the Comprehensive Plan update. The updates will include minor code amendments to bring the code current, as well as major amendments to the Tree Code, Building Code, etc. At least some of the updates will apply to walkways around the Port. He is encouraged that there is now a timeline in place and a code writer on staff full time to move the update process forward.


Port Attorney Stephens advised that she would not be able to attend the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPA) Small Ports Seminar because all accommodations are full. However, she is interested in getting material from some of the sessions and will be in touch with the Commissioners who attend.

Mr. McChesney said staff and Commissioner Grant met with Cameron Caldwell from Senator Cantwell’s office. Ms. Williams prepared a nice presentation to draw attention to the Port’s North Portwalk and Seawall Project for potential grant funding, and both projects seemed to be well received.

Mr. McChesney reported that work continues on the new Administration/Maintenance Buildings. Supply chain issues are a problem and the project is now two-weeks behind in terms of pouring concrete as a result of the concrete strike. The Port has been advised that the footings would be poured on September 29th. The steel needed for the project is being fabricated now, and it appears it will be delivered on time. He summarized that the contractor is doing a good job of getting everything ordered in a timely fashion, and they are still working on some of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development (LEED) Certification questions. As advised at an earlier meeting, it appears that LEED Gold Certification will be out of reach without a significant cost, but the project will meet the requirements for LEED Silver Certification.


Commissioner Johnston reported that he attended the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Environmental Seminar. His top takeaways include:

• A discussion about relationships with tribes. The Port is fortunate to have a good relationship with the Tulalip Tribe, but some good suggestions were provided for those who are finding it challenging. Always keep conversations honest and keep negotiations with them early, meaningful and individual.

• A discussion about climate action planning. It was noted that evidence of climate change includes storm surges, erosion, fire, extreme heat, etc. They stressed the importance of having a climate action plan to provide direction and policy for ports with regard to those issues. Not only are the plans the right thing to do, they strengthen a port’s competitiveness for grant funding. They also result in longer-term commercial success and protect and sustain social license to operate. They discussed the need for emission inventories and forecasts, noting there are emission sources that can and cannot be controlled. From the standpoint of opportunity, look for utility rebates and discounts, etc. Also, be aware of new building code requirements that pertain to climate change issues. Dana Horton, Lobbyist for the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, invited ports to share inventory results they might have if they decide to do a carbon emissions inventory.

• The big issue of discussion was that permitting is a mess, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear end in sight. There is a lot of conflict between the Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, in concert with others, has left for Washington to discuss the situation with various legislators.

Mr. McChesney advised that staff met with the project team for the North Portwalk and Seawall Project this morning where Steve Quarterman from Landau Associates provided an update on permitting. He said he would invite Mr. Quarterman and the project engineer to update the Commission on the status of the permits. Using a mitigation calculator, Mr. Quarterman has been able to determine that the Port will likely be able to satisfy the mitigation requirement, subject to review by National Marine Fisheries Service, by purchasing credits from the Blue Heron Mitigation Bank. Based on the calculator, the Port will need to purchase four credits, at a cost of about $16,000 each. He pointed out that it would be much more costly for the Port to design its own mitigation project. Commissioner Harris noted that the Port would be interested in contributing funds toward a project at the marsh to satisfy the mitigation requirement, but that is not an option at this point. Mr. McChesney agreed that the Port’s early direction was a preference to do mitigation at the marsh, but the Port would have to design the project. The Blue Heron Mitigation Bank, which was developed by the Port of Everett, is ready to go. Commissioner Johnston voiced his belief that significant mitigation of the marsh could be five to ten years out.

• They talked about how National and State Environmental Policy Acts were modified by the Trump Administration. It looks like some of the requirements will be restored, but not all of them. They will continue to look at greenhouse gas emissions, both upstream and downstream of projects, but to what extent is still being ironed out.

• There is a consortium of interests that spun out of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, which was disbanded in early 2020, dealing with underwater noise and other factors that continue to disturb marine wildlife. The Port of Seattle is taking the lead in this effort.

• During the “Show Something Cool,” session, the Ports of Vancouver and Bellingham shared projects related to the treatment of stormwater, which might have some relevance to the Port’s issues.

Commissioner Orvis asked if there is potential that, by the time North Portwalk and Seawall Project gets started, the Port will come under intense pressure to spend its mitigation dollars on the marsh. Mr. McChesney agreed that is a high likelihood. In addition to the mitigation that the Federal Government will impose, the City of Edmonds, via its jurisdiction over the Shoreline Master Program, may require additional mitigation, similar to what was required with the Jacobsen’s Marine project. Commissioner Johnston suggested the Port could lead the charge by thinking about what it would be willing to do and offer that up. The remainder of the Commissioners agreed that they should consider potential City requirements well in advance.

Commissioner Grant said he also attended the WPPA Environmental Seminar, where he enjoyed hearing about the National Environmental Policy Act changes. He found it interesting that Congress adequately funded The Army Cops of Engineers, which should assist in processing applications. However, they did not additionally fund NOAA for their requirements. He expects the Corps will be able to streamline things, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will. Commissioner Johnston said it was interesting to learn that the Corps of Engineers will be allowed to proceed with maintaining all of its facilities, but everyone else has to jump through the permitting hoops.

Commissioner Grant reported that he has attended a number of Edmonds City Council Meetings, and he and Commissioner Preston attended a Woodway Town Council meeting. He also advised that the incoming WPPA Executive Director spoke to him about the Cyber Taskforce, which is set to move forward.

Commissioner Preston said he attended the WPPA Environmental Seminar, as well as the Woodway Town Council meeting. He said he plans to attend the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee Chat on September 27th, as well as the Elected Officials Meeting in October. He announced he would attend the WPPA Small Ports Conference, noting that the WPPA will now have a Communications Committee. He announced that Commissioner Grant would attend the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) meeting.

Commissioner Preston reminded the Commissioners that their October 31st meeting was rescheduled to November 1st.

Ms. Drennan announced that the state audit will start next week.


The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jim Orvis
Port Commission Secretary