The Astoria Yacht Club members, who are estimated to hold at least 10 percent of the more than 300 moorage spaces at the West End Mooring Basin, have found a new home overlooking their vessels.

The Port of Astoria Commissioners unanimously agreed to enter into a lease with the club for the Pacific Room in the northwest corner of the Chinook Building, which sits just east of the Astoria Riverwalk Inn overlooking the West End Mooring Basin.

“This isn’t just someone who’s renting the place,” said Commissioner Floyd Holcom. “These are people who are already paying rent to the marina.”

The hope is that moving the yacht club into the Chinook Building will spur its renovation and increase moorage and revenue at the adjacent marina.

The lease is for 1,436 square feet for five years, with an option to extend. The yacht club will invest $35,000 in refurbishing the building, work for which it will be credited with a lower rent for the first five years – 12 cents per square foot, or about $172. After the first lease period, rent would go up to 62.5 cents per square foot. After the initial five years of discounted rent, the deal could net the Port nearly $900 a month.

Thor Sorenson, a yacht club member, estimated that his group holds at least 35 moorages in the marina.

Lease considered

The commission also looked at a potential lease for NRC?Environmental Services, an environmental cleanup group that would keep its vessel – the NRC Quest – on Pier 4, while leasing part of the docks for parking. The lease would last two years from June 1 to June 31, 2014.

Weston said NRC might be willing to improve the pier, stringing out its necessary electricity and investing $18,000 in utility improvements.

The Port seeks Connect IV grant funding through the Oregon Department of Transportation to reface Pier 2 with steel to better accommodate vessels. There is $40 million available for projects in Oregon, $18 million for projects the size of the Port’s, which would cost about $1 million.

“As long as we stay where we are, we’re good,” said Commissioner Jack Bland, who added that the Port’s project is currently ninth on the priority list of 23.

Its Pier 2 project is second in the North Coast region after an airport project in Tillamook, receiving a 95-percent match in funds from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Port sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in support of Astoria Marine Construction Company, which is trying to defer its dock space being listed as a Superfund cleanup site by the agency.

“Astoria Marine Construction Company provides a vital service to the Lower Columbia maritime community,” wrote Commissioner Dan Hess in a letter to the EPA,” and has the largest vessel haul-out facility on the Oregon/Washington coasts.”

The Port does agree that Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is the proper regulatory agency to oversee the investigation and cleanup of the site, much of which has pollution dating back to construction the company did for the U.S. Navy.

Rent waiver

requested

Brad Smithart of Hospitality Masters, operators of the Astoria Riverwalk Inn, asked the Port to wave June’s rent fot the hotel after the company paid $10,000 to change the Port of Astoria Sign next to the south end of the Astoria Bridge and spent another $12,000 fixing pipes in Wing C of the former Red Lion Inn. Commissioners agreed to defer June’s rent to the end of Hospitality Masters’ contract.

Smithart reported that the hotel has bookings through July 31, including more than 500 Groupon (online coupon) packages sold. The revenue projections are a bit behind, he said, because the hotel opened late. Next week it will open its specialized family suites, designed to sleep several people at a discount rate.

Port financial manager Colleen Browne approved funds in April to pay lawyers for their work in securing a settlement from insurance companies involved in the Port’s cleanup efforts resulting from petroleum spills by several former oil company tenants. Commissioners said any significant expense needs to gain their approval first; Browne said that there was already an agreement in place to pay the lawyers once the settlement came in.

Commissioners previously stated that the money from the settlement needs to be in a specific fund reserved solely for legal expenses, so it can keep track of financial obligations and not overestimate unrestricted cash on hand.

“That’s why the commission should know what’s going on with this settlement,” said Commissioner Bill Hunsinger.

In other news:

• The Port has a log ship – the 564-foot, Liberian-flagged Lily Oldendorff – fully loading with logs at the Westerlund Log Handlers facility on Pier 1. The Port also has another ship scheduled to come pick up a partial load of lumber.

• Interim director Herb Florer reported that the Port is still working with the U.S. Coast Guard and city of Astoria on a workable solution to moving the cutters Alert and Steadfast to Pier 2 while the city’s 17th Stree dock is repaired. Because of utilities and other costs, the Port would like to divide the vessels instead of tying both of them up on the east side of Pier 2.

• “Stuart Sinclair was probably one of the most silent leaders we had on the waterfront,” said Holcom about the yacht club member from Scotland who has died. “We lost an incredible member of our community.” Florer said he had heard mentions of Sinclair in the yachting community as far north as Victoria, British Columbia.

• The Port commission wants staff to be certain on policies regarding sale of public equipment, after a boom truck was sold without the commissioners’ knowledge. Current Port policies allow staff to sell equipment valued at less than $5,000 without a public offering. Commissioners said that no matter the price, public property should be publicly advertised.

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