PORT OFFICIALS LOOK AT PROVIDING GAS TO MOTORISTS

November 16, 2001 11:00 pm

By JEFF ST. PETER

In a special board meeting Wednesday, the Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners accepted a grant/loan to finance the new marine fueling station, a project that appears to be headed for expansion.

During the meeting, Port Manager Russ Crabtree requested the boards approval to research the possibility of providing vehicle fueling service to the community, in conjunction with the marine fueling operation.

I believe, that in balance, we have an obligation to provide services to the public, he said. We need to step up to ensure balance.

I think we have an opportunity with the marine fuel dock to serve the public with balance.

He added, I would like (the boards) permission to look at the infrastructure it would take to provide gas to the public in conjunction with the marine fueling station.

Commissioner Ken Byrtus said the demand for an alternative fuel supply in the community is obvious.

We have been reading it in the newspapers for the past several months, he said. People are tired of the high gas prices.

Fuel prices are significantly higher here than in other area communities. It would be good if would could provide an alternative and less expensive option.

Crabtree said that he would be analyzing the feasibility of some kind of card fueling system at the port.

The cost for putting in the infrastructure at the port should be small dollars, according to Crabtree.

The hope is that with the port buying for both marine and vehicle use, gas could be provided to the public less expensively.

If we buy bulk, we will be able to drive the price down, Crabtree said.

We could also look for an alternate supplier that can be sought outside the region.

With a good pricing program we can pass the savings on to the public.

Its not rocket science that we can adjust to the (fuel) rates to create balance in the market.

Crabtree also said savings would come from restrictions placed on the fueling operation by the evenly split grant/loan agreement.

The $300,000 in funding from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD) restricts the port from making a profit on fuel sales beyond the cost of overhead and loan repayment.

Crabtree said the OECDD funding on this project was unusual.

Its a unique concept with OECDD, he said. They dont normally fund enterprises like this.

But they partnered with us because they recognized the emergency nature of this project.

The port has been without a regular fueling service since Eureka Fisheries shut down its marine fueling operation in July.

The port has been providing recreational boaters with unleaded fuel from a temporary set-up in Boat Basin II, across from the U.S. Coast Guard station.

The new fueling station will be located at the same site.

Crabtree said that starting next week, the port will switch its temporary marine fueling operation from unleaded gas to diesel fuel to accommodate the upcoming commercial crabbing season.

The port will have 3,100 gallons of diesel fuel on site, and will limit boats to a 200-gallon purchase.

Well have specific hours during the crabbing season where the temporary fueling operation will be manned, he said. Well be in good shape until we have the fuel dock built and operating.

Fueling hours have yet to be set.

Crabtree said progress on construction of the new marine fueling station is moving forward.

Weve ordered (a special portion of the dock) from Bellingham (Wash.) Marine, and it should be ready in 45 days, he said. We have the steel pilings on site, and as soon as the weather clears well move our pile driver to the site and install the pilings.

And well be getting out the contract soon for the pouring of the pads, installation of piping and tanks, and the electronic gear.

The port crew will do the rest of the work, and it shouldnt take more than 30 days, if the weather breaks.

Crabtree said there was no way to set a tentative completion date now that winter weather has begun to arrive.