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Port of Hoodsport prepares to renew its dock lease

Hoodsport has spent estimated 15% of revenue

Port of Hoodsport officials agreed they need to address some matters as they work to renew the lease on its dock.

Cailan Neeler, ports program manager for the state Department of Natural Resources, contacted the Port of Hoodsport in July about the impending expiration of the port’s 30-year lease of the dock from DNR.

Port of Hoodsport Commission Chair Lori Kincannon said current port officials had been unaware of the upcoming need for a dock lease renewal from DNR, given that the original lease was signed 30 years ago. It’s set to expire April 30.

As such, Kincannon noted the Port of Hoodsport has spent “quite a few months” working with Neeler and DNR on applying for the lease renewal. Neeler has drafted a new lease agreement, based not only on DNR’s habitat stewardship visit of the site in February, but also on the port’s use of the facility.

When Kincannon asked Neeler why the dock lease renewal is for 15 years, Neeler said DNR’s standard lease term is 12 years, but it provided the Port of Hoodsport 15 years because of the requirements and additional obligations DNR is requesting of the port.

As long as the Hoodsport port continues to make the dock available for public use, DNR’s lease of the dock to the port will remain rent-free, but if public use is restricted, Neeler told port officials that DNR can start charging water-dependent rent without amending the lease.

Neeler assured Kincannon that the terms of the port’s insurance would remain largely similar, with exceptions such as being required to provide a certificate of insurance annually, but the dock itself would require inspections, starting with one to determine its state prior to the lease’s renewal, to include photos and video, taken above and underwater, and inspections of the dock’s pilings.

While Kincannon offered up YSS Dive Shop co-owners Katherine and John Yackel to obtain the photos and video, to which the Yackels agreed, Cody Morris echoed the concerns of fellow port commissioner Terry Brazil regarding the degrees of rigor and specifics that would be required for the inspections, given the limits of the Port of Hoodsport’s small budget.

Neeler said DNR has “pretty substantial concerns” with the functionality of the dock’s pilings, given that the habitat stewardship specialist pushed on 19 of the pilings, and six of them experienced a degree of movement that they shouldn’t, so one finding both the Port of Hoodsport and DNR will be looking for from upcoming inspections will be a determination of the life expectancy of the remaining pilings.

When Kincannon asked whether these issues need to be resolved prior to the lease signing, Neeler told her the port has two years to address “what we believe are nonfunctioning pilings,” because “it was not my intention to hold up the signing.”

Between surveys, updates and legal fees, Kincannon estimated the Port of Hoodsport has already spent 15% of its total revenue for the year on dock lease renewal-related expenses, and expressed reticence to sign the lease if it means committing to further expenditures that she doesn’t know if the port can afford.

Neeler responded by emphasizing DNR’s willingness to work with the port on holdovers from the outgoing lease. She told Kincannon, “If you have different timelines you think you can meet, present those to DNR, so that we can see if they work for us.”

Kincannon still expressed concerns that costs to come might obligate the port to find “another steward for this dock,” while Morris asked Neeler how other ports whose sizes and budgets are comparable to those of the Port of Hoodsport have handled similar dock-leasing expenses.

Neeler admitted to being “pretty new to the job,” but cited ports who had obtained grants, so Kincannon requested Neeler seek others at DNR who have had more experience in dealing with the financial limits of smaller ports.

Meanwhile, Neeler and Morris agreed that determining the health of the dock’s pilings needs to be a priority for the port, with Morris pointing out that the port needs that information in order to develop plans and timelines.

Neeler said DNR also recommended the port retain the services of a dock builder, contractor and/or engineer to make such assessments, while Morris pledged to contact personnel at the Hood Canal Marina in Union to tap their experience and expertise.

Author Bio

Kirk Boxleitner, Reporter

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Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
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