WARRENTON - The Hammond Marina is a magnet for boaters and fishermen and one of Warrenton's most important recreational facilities. But its overwhelming popularity with both tourists and local residents has strained the marina to the max.

A master plan drawn up several years ago identifies problems with moorage and boat trailer parking, fueling facilities and access to the river channel. However, there's a big obstacle standing in the way of implementing costly improvements:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, not the city of Warrenton, owns the marina.

"People don't realize we don't own it," said Mark Kujala, who was filling in as mayor at Tuesday night's meeting of the Warrenton City Commission. The Hammond Marina has been leased from the Corps for about 46 years, Kujala said. It's an arrangement that started decades before the town of Hammond was annexed by the city of Warrenton in the early 1990s.

In a continuing effort to gain ownership, Warrenton city leaders have appealed to Congress for help. At Tuesday's meeting, the Commission approved sending a letter of support to U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley for their plan to use the Water Resource Development Act as a means of transferring ownership of the marina to Warrenton. The idea was first suggested by U.S. Rep. David Wu, who is also working with Warrenton on the ownership issue.

"The city needs a long-term lease or preferably ownership. We can't get long-term investors," Kujala said. "Investors need to know there's a future after 2013 (when the current lease with the Corps expires)."

The issue was highlighted at Tuesday's meeting, when Paul Leitch entered into a sublease agreement for property at the Hammond Marina, where he intends to have a fish-cleaning and packing operation, a small store for people using the marina and possibly a boat repair business.

Leitch said cleaning up the property he's leasing "will take a little time and a lot of money," and he would like to have a longer lease.

But the Commissioners said they couldn't make any promises because they don't know what the Corps will do.

In other business, the Commission:

? heard a report from Laura Leebrick of Western Oregon Waste on proposed rate adjustments. She said tipping fees at the transfer station will increase by 10.21 percent starting July 1. She said half of the increase is a new surcharge that will go into a countywide household hazardous waste fund. The new rate will be $87.62 per ton, up from $79.50. Other recycling rates will go up as well;

? awarded a contract not to exceed $15,000 to BSM Engineering of Astoria for engineering work associated with possible formation of a local improvement district (LID) for improvements to Southwest Juniper Street;

? adopted a resolution updating the city's public records request policy to include fees to address digital and electronic records and other items;

? approved a $6,947 change order for additional weatherproofing of the Clatsop Community Action Food Bank warehouse now under construction;

? tabled a resolution appointing board members to the Warrenton Business Association until a special meeting to be held at 5 p.m. May 6 before the 5:30 p.m. budget committee meeting.

Present at Tuesday's meeting were Kujala and Commissioners Terry Ferguson and Frank Orrell. Commissioner Dick Hellberg and Mayor Gil Gramson were absent.

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