The Port of Astoria is revamping management at its North Tongue Point industrial park.

The agency took control of the facility Nov. 1 after signing a 20-year lease with property owner Washington?Group of Missoula, Mont.

At a Port Commission meeting Tuesday, Port Executive Director Jack Crider said he's looking to rewrite some of the subleases for existing tenants at the site so the Port can recover its expenses on utilities and reduce its share of property taxes.

He said Washington Group had been paying bills for its tenants that the Port won't have to pay if it can rewrite the subleases, particularly for the month-to-month tenants.

Port financial officer Colleen Browne presented a cash flow analysis of the Port's revenue and expenses at the site. For the first six months of the Port's management, she anticipates net monthly income of around $1,500 - that's after the Port has paid its $25,000 monthly lease payment to Washington Group.

Collectively, existing tenants at the site pay $25,297 per month in rent, and the Port anticipates an additional $9,000 in monthly income over the next six months from new lease revenue, dockage fees, property tax collections and utilities rebilling.

The Port's monthly expenses over the first six months total $32,696.

A security guard has been assigned to the property for a daily 10-hour shift and a security camera will be installed at the entrance gate, Crider said.

From May to October 2010, the Port anticipates its net income rising to $22,000 a month, as around $25,000 of new sublease revenue comes online from the boatbuilders J&H Boatworks and Pacific Expeditions, the dredging and construction company J.E. McAmis, Tongue Point Investors, which has proposed to build a biomass plant at the site and/or Warrenton Fiber, which wants to build a sawmill, dry kiln and co-generation facility there.

Crider said it is still unclear whether both Tongue Point Investors and Warrenton Fiber projects will be leasing land in the industrial park.

Vicki Goodman has been hired by the Port on contract as a grant-writer. She reported on several applications the?Port has sent in for grants through the state's $100 million transportation enhancement program ConnectOregon III.

The Port is applying for a $2 million loan to buy a mobile crane that would allow shippers to "transload" at the?Port, using Port property to transfer cargo from one mode of transportation to another. The loan could be repaid through user fees, Goodman said.

To help with the problem of where to store dredge spoils, the Port is asking for a $1.2 million grant to install sheet pile and tiebacks on the east side of Pier 3 to create a holding area where accumulated dredge material would eventually expand the acreage of the pier.

Goodman said she hopes the Port could use its own labor, equipment and materials as a match for the grant.

The Port is also looking for a two-year subsidy of $1.2 million from the state to hire its own stand-by tug service to assist ships on the Columbia River. To pay for the service long-term, the agency would charge a fee of around $100 to every vessel crossing the bar.

Crider said while the Columbia River Bar Pilots and U.S.?Coast Guard officials like the idea of having a tug at the Port, the shipping industry isn't sold on the idea because of the fee.

"They're glad the Port is doing this, but we're dipping other people's pockets here, and they're rather protective of those pockets," Crider said. "We're hoping if the tug is here, it's going to be used. We're known for not having a tug here."

Crider and Commissioner Bill Hunsinger said the Port is missing out on business opportunities by not having a crane and a tug.

The Port is also applying for $650,000 to build a new hangar and shop building for SeaPort airlines and $4.4 million to improve runways and taxiways at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton so it will qualify for a lower minimum visibility standard. If the project is successful, it would likely reduce the number of days flights need to be canceled because of low visibility.

The state money would require a match that Goodman said the Port could pay with $1.5 million in funding already approved by the?Federal Aviation Administration.

Finally, the Port is hoping to get a grant to install siding and spurs and improve bridges on the Portland & Western Rail line that leads to North Tongue Point.

In other business, the Commission approved $10,000 for the Lower Columbia Solutions Group to go toward the development of a regional storage facility for contaminated dredge spoils in the city of Warrenton's old sewer lagoon.


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