Port of Astoria Commissioner Bill Hunsinger has questioned how the agency plans to cover a $1.75 million loan taken out to pay for a new stormwater treatment system on Pier 3, and how it plans to have tenants cover about half the cost.
“Which tenants are responsible for half of the total loan cost, and have they been contacted?” Hunsinger asked in a guest column published Friday in The Daily Astorian.
On Tuesday, Kurt Englund of Englund Marine & Industrial Supply, one of the Port’s largest tenants affected by the stormwater system, asked the Port Commission for an audience with the agency to answer those questions.
His company has not had any formal communication from the Port regarding the stormwater system in a year and a half, Englund said.
“We don’t know where we stand on that, along with probably a lot of other tenants as well,” Englund said.
The Port was required by the state Department of Environmental Quality in August 2014 to install a stormwater treatment system by July 2016 after monitoring found unsafe amounts of copper entering the Columbia River, potentially harming salmon and other aquatic life.
The Port’s contractor started construction in 2016 on a system of ponds and a bioswale to leach harmful substances out of storm runoff before discharge into the river. The system was activated in November, 14 months behind schedule, after multiple delays, weather damage and a $22,000 fine from the state for not finishing in time.
Port staff had outlined a plan to have tenants help cover the cost of the stormwater system based on the square footage of land they lease in the area being serviced. The Port would cover slightly more than half the cost of the loan. The most-affected tenants are Englund Marine, Astoria Forest Products, Bornstein Seafoods, Bergerson Construction and a nearby commercial building complex.
Port Executive Director Jim Knight, absent from Tuesday’s meeting because of a surgical procedure, had previously said he was waiting until the system worked to bring a financing plan to tenants. Now that the stormwater system is active and the issue popping up in the newspaper, Englund said, he’d like to get an idea of the plan to pay for it.
Port Commission President Frank Spence sought to reassure Englund that answers are coming.
“You will be contacted and have discussions before our next commission meeting,” Spence said.
The Port Commission next meets in three weeks.