PORT OF ILWACO - Monday's Port of Ilwaco commission meeting began with a brief Ilwaco Basin Board meeting with Ilwaco Mayor Ed Leonard.

Port Manager Mack Funk explained the history of the basin board, saying that in the mid-1970s, it became necessary to rebuild slips at the marina but funds weren't available. In the mid-1980s, the port entered into a financial agreement with the city, aided by the state, for a rebuilding project. The last payment on the program will be made by the port in 2004.

"The payments have been made," Leonard said. The port's Financial Director Mary DeLong commented that funds are put aside throughout each year to make the loan payments.

Pacific County Economic Development Director Linda Rotmark thanked the commissioners for their "generous support" of the EDC and its work and gave a brief update of the agency's projects including a recent leadership conference and a strategic plan with goals reaching to 2007.

Funk "strongly recommended" renewing membership in the EDC. Commissioners Frank Unfred and Jim Stiebritz voted to approve. Commissioner Dick Watrous was not at the meeting.

Funk then outlined plans to obtain a marina reconstruction grant to rebuild docks at the port. "The port's docks have suffered from deferred maintenance resulting in injuries and property damage," he said in a written statement to commissioners. "During the past five years the port has made great strides in repairing its docks, but with 800 moorage slips we still have a long way to go."

He said next year the port will make the final payment on a loan that helped finance a marina project in the 1970s. "Due to the vagaries of fishing seasons and markets, the port was near default on the original loan, but a work-out defeasance scheme was arranged by the state," he said. "There are hundreds of local year-round and seasonal jobs that depend on the activity at our port. We expect to gather a great deal of support from the city, the county, individual business owners, fish processors, merchants groups and commercial fishermen."

Funk asked the commission to approve applying for federal Rural Business Enterprise and state Community Economic Revitalization Board grants totalling $545,000 to be used for materials, labor, outside services, a pile driver and management. The funds would be used "to improve safety and services, especially on C, F and G docks, 184 slips." Work would include water lines, electrical distribution, flotation, stringers and boards on wooden docks, whalers and corner pieces on concrete docks, concrete patching and new pilings.

Funk proposed that work would begin in the spring and be completed in time for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in June 2005.

Purchasing a pile driver for the port would save thousands of dollars, Funk said. In the last four years, the port has spent $81,000 on fees for outside pile driving services. "There are 500 pilings in the marina," he said, "and some need to be replaced. I want to replace 50 a year. We could save $25,000 a year if we had our own equipment and it would be paid for in 10 years. It makes good sense and we could loan it out to neighboring ports."

Commissioners will vote on applying for the grants at a future meeting.

Port Harbormaster Jamie Sowers reported that dredging for the current season began Saturday and that big yellow signs have been installed warning of the dredge pipe in the water.

Sowers also said a new windsock has been installed at the Ilwaco Airport to replace one ripped apart in a recent windstorm and that lights at the airport damaged by vandalism have been replaced.

DeLong discussed charging rental fees for private functions at the new pavilion/restrooms at the port. She said there are few covered areas on the Peninsula for private parties and they don't charge a fee. She said Portland parks charge $175 per day. Two groups have inquired about using the area next summer. She said the Portland Yacht Club wasn't charged for using the pavilion during its annual visit.

"It's not unreasonable to charge for using the pavilion," Commissioner Unfred said.

Port businessman Milt Gudgell suggested charging $100 with $50 returned if the area is left clean.

Beacon Charter and RV Park owner Mike Cassinelli said the yacht club should be charged a fee "because of the extra garbage they leave. Why should leaseholders have to pay?" he said.

Unfred said a police patrol of the area would be useful if alcohol was used during a function. "It's a unique facility and brings business for everyone," he said.

Commissioners tabled the issue to discuss later.

Funk then turned to a discussion of a Baker Bay and Ilwaco Harbor study proposal which, he said, is a part of Section 5102 of the Water Resouces Development Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep Brian Baird. The study should determine if the increased siltation at the two locations is caused by federal navigation projects such as the jetties and pile dikes. The act has been passed in the House and next heads for Senate approval before being signed by the president.

"In the good old days," Funk said, "the corps dredged the harbor entrance and the channel extension inside the harbor. Then they stopped." He asked his commissioners if they supported the language in the study and adding the Port of Chinook to the study. "It would benefit both of us," he said. Unfred and Stiebritz agreed.

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