FINAL OK SOUGHT FOR PORT PROJECTS

May 18, 2002 12:00 am

By BRIAN BULLOCK

Three construction projects at the Port of Brookings Harbor are awaiting the signature of the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department to continue.

Port executive director Russ Crabtree said Thursday he is still awaiting the signature of Mike Burton, assistant director of the OECDD, on a letter confirming a $1.5 million funding package that will allow the port to continue its summer construction programs.

The port director said he was told to expect the letter May 10. But as of press deadline Friday, Burton still had not signed the letter.

The delay has caused the port to suspend work on three projects it has targeted for this summer: a cold storage facility, additional commercial/retail space, and a service and repair dock and facility.

Another project being delayed is the port's new fueling dock. Crabtree said Thursday a Request for Quotes will go out to certified petroleum fuel installers May 24 to finish the piping from the shore to the dock pump house.

"By that date my work is done," Crabtree said. "I've got my low voltage lines in. I've got my drains in."

The port director said by law, a certified installer must put in the 4-inch flex tubes that will carry the fuel from the shore down to the pump located on the dock. He said the work will probably cost from $80,000 to $130,000.

Despite the delay in construction, Crabtree said the port can still offer fuel. It's just a slower process than it will be when the new tanks and pumps begin operation.

One of the reasons for the delay in the fuel dock construction was the port's own decision to change the location of the underground fuel tanks. Crabtree said the system was redesigned to make the tanks more accessible for future uses.

"We relocated (the tanks) in anticipation of future retail sales of fuel at the port," Crabtree said.

The port, along with help from the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce, is still pursuing the possibility of opening a retail gas station adjacent to Lower Harbor Road.

"I'm still working with my Congressional representatives to get statutory authority to retail fuel," Crabtree explained.

He said he is working with State Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, and State Sen. Bill Fisher, R-Roseburg, on legislative authority for the port to create a fuel cooperative. He added representatives of the chamber are researching the legal issues that would allow that cooperative to sell to the general public.

"They're working on the legal technicalities of setting up a co-op," Crabtree said. "What are the legal hoops we have to jump through? They're addressing those kinds of questions."

Crabtree said if the port could get legislative and legal approval to retail fuel sales, it would make port operations much more efficient. He said port employees could jointly handle marine fuel sales, retail fuel sales and cold storage operations.

Another project nearing completion is construction of a new ramp to connect the gangway to the transient docks. The new ramp, a concrete structure, leads to a newly constructed gangway. It provides much better accessibility to the marina docks, Crabtree said.

For now, the port director is concentrating on getting the cold storage, commercial and retail buildings, and service facilities going.

"The letter should be here any day and as soon as it gets here we'll be moving on three projects simultaneously," Crabtree said of the letter from Burton. "He signs off and we roll."

Crabtree said the construction projects will take approximately six months. The first priority, he added, is getting the roofs up so construction can continue once the rainy season returns.