By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

In separate board meetings of the Port of Brookings Harbor and the Harbor Sanitary District (HSD) held Oct. 9, port commissioners requested a 60-day extension on HSD demands for work on the port’s RV park restrooms, and the HSD board responded, allowing only a 30-day extension.

Port President Roy Davis said the port needed an extension so commissioners could “discuss the whole thing in public.”

He indicated he might invite the Curry County Health Department to the port’s meeting to determine the health effects of any plan to seal or protect the drains in the bathrooms at the port’s RV park.

The extension became necessary after the HSD board rejected the port’s plan to seal restroom floor drains and close the showers at the RV restrooms as a way to stop sand from entering the drains.

Port officials and HSD staff agree beach sand enters the sewage system at the port through floor drains at the RV park restrooms.

HSD demanded a solution and set a deadline of Oct. 9 after rejecting the previous plan.

HSD Manager Kelly Beebe said the proposal was rejected because capping the drains in the restrooms would allow feces to collect on the floor if the toilets overflowed.

HSD commissioners asked for a new plan to be submitted as soon as possible during the extension period and also said they wanted to see immediate action by the port.

“We already gave them two years,” HSD Commissioner Skip Arnett said while shaking his head.

HSD Chair Anthony Burkett advised giving the port 30 days “to show something positive,” and warned the port not to do nothing for two years and then ask for an extension and do nothing again. “If they get 30 days and we don’t see anything done, there is no more extensions; we’re going to close them down,” he added.

Port Commissioner Richard Heap said, “We’re being asked to spend thousands of dollars on a restroom we have already said we plan to replace.”

Port commissioners discussed bringing in portable restrooms if the situation caused them to close the current restrooms.

Burkett said it was not HSD’s job to tell the port what to do, although the board discussed acceptable, temporary solutions including installing barriers outside the doors to divert the sand and having employees close and lock the doors during king tides.

King tides are the highest tides that occur in an area and are a predictable natural event. At the port, they often drive sand from the beach through the RV park and into the restroom drains.

Once in the system, the sand harms the impellers in HSD pumps and clogs pipes, according to Beebe.

Port Commissioner Joe Speir, who attended the HSD meeting, blurted out, “Why not (tell us what to do)? We need you to tell us what to do.”

He also asked why the port and HSD had not held a board-to-board meeting and indicated he had asked for one and didn’t know what happened.

The HSD commissioners later voted to request a board-to-board meeting with port commissioners.

Beebe, regarding the board’s discussion of temporary fixes, said HSD employees had gone to the port prior to king tides to close the bathroom doors or request port staff do so, but port staff refused.

Port Interim Manager Kathy Lindley Hall said she was unaware of any request to close the doors by HSD or any refusal by port staff to do so.

The port tried to install filters in the drains as well, according to Beebe, even after they had been informed in writing that they were no longer an acceptable option. She said the filters had been approved as a temporary fix but had not been installed for more than six months and HSD ordinances demand a sand trap.

Hall said Beebe personally stopped port employees from installing the filters.

“That was the first time anyone at the port was aware the filters were no longer acceptable,” she said.

A sand trap separates sand out of the system and places it into an access area for removal, whereas a sand filter works on individual drains, much like a coffee filter, and requires regular maintenance.

Contacted after both meetings, Davis said he was not aware filters were only approved as a temporary fix, and added, “If we are out of compliance, then we will do what is necessary to comply.”

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