WARRENTON — A long-desired transfer of land from the federal government to Warrenton may finally happen this year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is requesting public comment on a plan to transfer ownership of the Hammond Marina to Warrenton. City leaders have been working toward a transfer for the past four years, but City Manager Linda Engbretson said Warrenton has long hoped to own the marina.
Without full ownership of the property, Warrenton, which leases the small boat basin and surrounding property from the Army Corps, has struggled to secure money to dredge the silted-in marina. Nor has the city been able to go ahead with some other improvements.
If the property transfer goes through, the city would also take on the responsibility of maintaining the channel leading into the marina and breakwater. Ownership of the land will revert back to the Army Corps if the land ceases to be owned by a public entity.
“I’m feeling very confident at this point,” Engbretson said. “The folks at the Corps have been great to work with.”
The marina would be a key acquisition as Warrenton leaders begin to craft an economic development road map for Warrenton and Hammond. The city is in the middle of a community exercise to identify what kinds of businesses, amenities, jobs and other improvements residents want to see in the area, and steps they can take to achieve these desires.
The marina is already a busy hub during the height of spring and summer recreational fishing seasons. Hundreds of fishermen launch from the marina and camp at the small campground above the boat slips, especially during the summer.
Last year, revenue from camping fees alone covered the city’s budget for maintaining and staffing the marina — a feat the city is on track to accomplish again this year.
Harbormaster Jane Sweet’s first priorities once the city gains ownership of the marina will be to get the marina dredged and repair docks, but other improvements and enhancements are likely to follow.
Mayor Henry Balensifer told attendees at an economic development meeting in Hammond on Monday that the city will be working with neighboring Fort Stevens State Park to connect a city trail system with the park’s network of trails after the transfer of land goes through,
Sweet herself would like to see the addition of a dock that would give people who don’t have boats the ability to fish and drop crab pots from the shore.
The Army Corps is accepting public comments through Sept. 6. The agency’s environmental assessment of the site is available at https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16021coll7/id/7748
Comments and questions can be sent via e-mail to Suzanne.Hill@usace.army.mil, or mailed to: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, attention CENWP-PM-E/Suzanne Hill, P.O. box 2946, Portland, OR., 97208.