The Port of Astoria is moving forward with improvements to the East and West Mooring Basins as well as Piers 1 and 3.
Port commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a subrecipient agreement that would allow them to receive funds from a Transportation Security Administration grant the port received. The money from the $322,500 grant will go to installing fencing, gates and security cameras on Pier 1 to comply with the Department of Homeland Security's regulations for facilities where vessels like cruise ships, research vessels, barges and cargo ships dock.
Commissioner Dan Hess asked if the improvements were really necessary, because the grant comes with many conditions and requirements; Peter Gearin, the port's executive director, said that the staff had given it serious consideration, but decided that the additions were necessary.
If the security improvements aren't implemented for the pier, "it really just turns you into a recreational facility," said port Deputy Director Bill Cook. "Clearly the commission and community wants this facility."
Staff described progress on other facilities. Port staff and BSM Structural Engineering have finalized the design for part of the expansion of the West Mooring Basin, with plans for new floats and the relocation of the fuel dock. The port is still working on plans for new offices with restrooms and additional showers and a recreation area.
At the East Mooring Basin, the port has awarded a contract to Big River to build an additional boat ramp; construction is expected to begin Nov. 1.
"It's good news for the users of the facility up there because they're going to have a lot easier access," said Cook, although he added that it could make the traffic worse around the area.
Gearin said that port staff is considering putting an additional boat ramp on Pier 3, which could ease the congestion around the ramp on the east side of town. He also said that staff were trying to speed up the funding for a washdown facility by the haul-out machine on Pier 3. The haul-out has lifted 23 boats out of the water and port staff are encouraged with the progress.
"The machine's doing what we had always imagined she'd do," said Cook. "We're optimistic that it will just continue to grow."
Cook also said that Monday's cruise visit went well, even though many vendors at the Never on a Sunday Market left early in the afternoon because of the rain. Passengers and crew said they were impressed with Astoria, and Cook said he thinks there's a good chance that the Silver Seas line will come back.
The staff and commissioners also discussed the six elk found on airport property over the weekend. Gearin said they think the elk are getting over the cattle guards and Cook said it is possible that one or more of the cows had calves on the property.