By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Port Manager Gary Dehlinger returned the board’s focus to the port’s Strategic Plan and a 26 page list of damaged port infrastructure Tuesday when he attended the first board meeting since his reinstatement.

Dehlinger began working at the port again Monday after settling two suits against the port and previous port commissioners — one suit claimed the board held an illegal meeting at which he was fired and the other suit claimed damages for actions taken surrounding his termination. Both suits asked the courts to return Dehlinger to his job.

Interim Port Manger Kathy Lindley Hall, who was replaced by Dehlinger when the board reinstated him and in accordance with her contract, said she was proud to have worked with the port staff and called them “the greatest group of men and women I’ve ever worked with.”

The commissioners chose to take the Strategic Plan and infrastructure list and read them over the next month before reviewing them with Dehlinger at the board’s December meeting.

Dehlinger and Harbormaster Travis Webster reported the port’s fuel dock had slipped another 2 inches in the last year and recommended the board hold off on replacing the fuel pump until they reroute supply lines. The lines currently follow an aluminum ramp placed across the water like a bridge, but the lines still emerge from below the upper dock, which is shifting toward the water as the slope gives way.

According to Dehlinger, the supply lines under the upper dock are visibly stressed and likely to fail.

The commissioners agreed to have Webster and Dehlinger explore alternative paths for the lines before purchasing a new pump.

The current pump has aged to the point where parts are no longer available to repair it, according to Webster, and a new pump will need to be purchased after the supply problems are solved.

Homeless ordinance

Port Attorney Martha Rice presented Ordinance 22 for the board’s consideration –– “an ordinance regulating sleeping and camping on port property.”

The ordinance prohibits camping on port property except on areas designated as a campground, and defined camping as erecting a tent or similar temporary structure.

It also prohibits sleeping on port property except in areas designated for sleeping. However, both camping and sleeping could be allowed if they occurred between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., happened in areas where the activity would not obstruct pathways or cause damage to port property and if there were no local, overnight shelter beds available.

Commissioner Wesley Ferraccioli balked at the wording.

“I got a real problem with this personally,” he said. “There are thousands of acres in Oregon where someone can go sleep. Why are we giving them an invite?”

Rice noted her advice was based on the court’s allowance of reasonable restrictions but limited by its ruling as well, and she explained she based the ordinance on a consensus she formed with other attorneys working for state and county governments and entities.

Board President Roy Davis encouraged the board to take the advice of counsel.

“In the past, when the board did not do so, it lead to some real tragedies,” Davis said.

Commissioner Ken Range asked Rice if the Curry County sheriff would enforce the ordinance as it was written, and when she assured him the sheriff’s office would do so, he offered a motion to accept the ordinance as read. The board unanimously passed Ordinance 22.

The ordinance will become policy 30 days after being read again at the December meeting.

Green building

Range opened discussion on the vacant green building at the port by noting the port owed between $307,000 and $330,000 for the building and paid $2,000 or more per month to The Infrastructure Finance Authority (IFA), a division of Business Oregon, for the loan.

He declared the building had no value as it is and proposed advertising for a plan to finish construction, and if no viable plans were submitted, demolishing it.

The green building, often called The Big Green Building or the Gray Ghost, is an empty, unfinished 22,000-square-foot, two-story building on Lower Harbor Road.

The nearly 2.5 acres under and around the building could be used for RV and large boat storage, according to Range, and earn 50 cents a square foot, if the building was demolished.

The board approved a motion to advertise for third-party proposals to complete construction and develop the building while leasing the land from the port. Commissioner Richard Heap added a drop-dead-date to the motion requiring that any plan be accepted and acted on within 12 months. Should no viable proposals be submitted or a plan fail to show adequate progress after 12 months, the port would move to demolish the building.

Board members said proposals would have to be long-term and provide the port with a lease payment at least equal to the $2,000 a month it pays the IFA.

Stormwater runoff

Commissioners discussed stormwater flooding with Dehlinger and emphasized the need to move on as flooding was not only occurring near the Foggy Bottom or Righetti building but in other port properties as well.

The board recently agreed to work with the Righettis to solve flooding and other problems that had resulted in litigation after both parties agreed to drop their suits.

Heap said the port needed to work with the county and state and any other involved parties to determine whether the drains in those areas were “properly sized or needed to be cleaned and repaired.”

The port and county are waiting for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to approve a plan for the drains, according to Davis.

“Curry County can’t touch the drains until they get a management plan approved by DEQ,” he said.

Dehlinger added that sediment from the drains was destroying the docks where the culverts discharge into the basins.

In other news

A new pad of concrete was poured and created a space for fishermen to clean out coolers near the fish cleaning station. Prior to its installation, patrons had to walk across a rock area to clean coolers. The pad was paid for by the South Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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