“We are now dredging the marina at Bay Center,” Chaffee said. “We have spent the last three seasons working up in Tokeland, and will go back, once again, after we dredge Bay Center.”
Having worked at obtaining dredging permits for three years, the port made the decision to also acquire their own dredge so they would not have to contract out the maintenance requirement.
“It cost right around $500,000 just to get the operation into place, without starting the dredge, if we contract the job out,” Chaffee said.
With Tokeland slowly filling in with mud, the Port had to make the decision of what had to be done as it looked like the Tokeland Marina might have to be shut down.
“After we got the permits and started our dredging operation, I believe we saved the Tokeland Marina,” Chaffee said. “We dredged from 2009 – 2011 during the available time slot running from October to the end of February during those years.”
And in further support of gill netting, oysters and crabbing industries that are a big part of the Tokeland Marina, a new project to revitalize the area is just months away.
“I call it the Tokeland Marina Revitalization Project,” Chaffee said. “We are looking at tearing down a facility, building some new ones, a commercial pier and additional repairs.”
Chaffee notes that with grants the Port has been able to obtain and with a matching 25 percent from the Port, close to $2 million will be spent over the next five years at Tokeland in hopes to improve business and general life in the area.
The project is so involved even North Cove and Westport Fire Departments are taking part.
“One of the buildings will be burned down,” Chaffee said. 'The fire departments will be using it as a training exercise. And that should happen soon. As soon as the area is cleaned up, we will start with the revitalization project.”
Dredging, which is a maintenance operation for the port and their tenants, is one of those things that cost ports money.
“We get no revenue from dredging, but if we do not dredge, the ports will have to shut down,” Chaffee said. “I think that with our section dredge and the ability to dispose via Lane Flow Disposal, that we will be able to keep the marina’s operational.”
In the past, the Army Corps of Engineers would bring down their clam shell dredges and transport the extraction tonnage out into the open ocean. As the new Section Dredge was being applied for, the dredging permit Chaffee was looking at was what is called Lane Flow Disposal. With Lane Flow Disposal, sediment need only be placed into a current that will ensure that keeps water quality or Turbidity to a specific level. The new dredging operation currently being accomplished does just that.
“We are able to cut down our expenses and keep the areas dredged,” Chaffee said. “It just may take us a little longer, but it seems to be working.”
With the marinas becoming more functional and the anticipation of new construction up in Tokeland, the Port is also looking at new revenue streams that have cropped up.
“Halo Source, one of our biggest tenants, advised us that they would be moving out last November (2012),” Chaffee said. “They had occupied 5 of our largest buildings. We were not sure what was going to happen.”
The budget for 2013 was set up on a reduction of lost revenue and it seemed possible that facilities and even employees may have to be terminated. But with the passing of I-502 in November of 2012, new tenants came knocking at the Port office door.
“We never even thought of the marijuana industry,” Chaffee said. “The initiative had just passed and we really did not know what it meant.”
It did not take long before investors into the new industry that is somewhat controversial in the state, started looking at the open facilities vacated by Halo Source and every other open industrial area.
“It was almost as soon as Halo Source left that we were introduced to Marcus Charles from Seattle,” Chaffee said. “He had a vision and brought in investors.”
With the recent passing of I-502, Washington State’s new Marijuana Initiative, the Port of Willapa Harbor has filled their available space and is looking at a potential windfall should licensing go through.
“We have several tenants working with the marijuana industry now,” Chaffee said. “Ten at Stan Hatfield South Fork Industrial Park, six at Dick Taylor Industrial Park and four more at the Raymond Port Dock. We are almost at 100 percent capacity. But it all hinges on if the tenants are approved by the State Liquor Control Board, and are granted licenses.”
The commitment from Pacific County from the City of Raymond, the Port Commissioners and the County Commissioners, all seem to be looking onto the future and a potential billion-dollar industry as it is currently estimated in the state of Colorado.
“Places that have been vacant for a while are now filled up,” Chaffee said. “A little work is happening, but everyone has to wait and see just what happens with the industry.”
With the loss of up to 30 jobs under Halo Source, the new cannabis industry looks to replace that number and possibly more. The most recent activity in the time line for the marijuana industry was settled in a recent Port Commissioners meeting.
“We have just been approved for three conditional use applications for the port,” Chaffee said. “With the conditions of use that the leasing parties involved with the new industry are licensed from State Liquor Control Board. The city is not looking to place any additional restrictions for industrial areas.”
The Ports ability to market their space will be enhanced by the conditional use agreement, as an investor can come to the Port of Willapa Harbor and not have to make separate applications. If they can get a license from the State, they operate out of the port.
“This does not include retail operations, only production and processing,” Chaffee said. “Right now I believe that we have the right tenants for this business should everything work out as planned.”
Chaffee added that current tenants do have a release clause in their current agreement with the Port, that if they are not granted licensing, they can vacate.