Near the end of Tuesday’s Port of Astoria Commission meeting, Kurt Englund approached the podium and asked the Port Commission what’s going on at Pier 3, which currently holds a boatyard and much of his clientele.
Astoria Forest Products, which on April 1 acquired the leases of Westerlund Log Handlers for 6.5 acres on Pier 3 and another 2 to 3 acres on Pier 1, is planning for a log-sorting and processing yard on Pier 3. In the future, it wants to refurbish the docks at Pier 3 and use it to exponentially increase exports of logs and other cargo.
For this plan, said the company’s yard manager Dave Daggett, said it needs the entire pier, which means moving the boatyard. Daggett stated that the Port is already looking at locations to move the boatyard.
Michael Weston, the Port’s interim executive director, said the Port’s only agreements with Astoria Forest Products, the local operating name for Murphy Overseas USA, are the ones that have already been in place with Westerlund since 2010. Commissioners said they knew as much about the proposal by Astoria Forest Products as was in The Daily Astorian’s article about Pier 3 Aug. 9.
“We haven’t even agreed to terms with them,” added Weston about any potential project.
“We’re not against log exports whatsoever,” said Englund. “Westerlund’s been a good customer of ours.”
But when his company moved from its old location near 14th Street to the foot of Pier 3, said Englund, it was told by the Port that it would be a part of a marine cluster. It invested more than $4 million in its new building, which provides employment to many people.
“Loss of the boatyard or moving it will affect our company,” said Englund, adding that increased traffic from multiple log ships could also affect his customers’ experience. He asked the Port to keep existing tenants involved in any decisions on Pier 3, and to consider the shaky longevity of the global log market.
Commission Chairman John Raichl said he remembered the discussions of Pier 3 becoming a marine cluster. In the very near future, he added, the Port will have meetings with constituents about the future of Pier 3. “We do want to keep the tenants in the loop.”