Port Commission elects new officers, hears from Puget Sound Express on 2017 plans

Port of Edmonds Commissioners following the election of 2017 officers. From left: Commissioner Jim Orvis, Vice President David Preston, President Fred Gouge, Secretary Steve Johnson and Commissioner Bruce Faires.
The Port of Edmonds Commission will sail into 2017 with a new set of officers in place. At Monday night’s bi-monthly Port Commission meeting, the commissioners elected the following officers for a one-year term that begins on January 1, 2017.

  • President: Fred Gouge
  • Vice President: David Preston
  • Secretary: Steve Johnston

Pete Hanke of Puget Sound Express
The meeting opened with two presentations. First, Pete Hanke presented a 2016 operations report for Puget Sound Express, the whale watching company that operates out of the Edmonds Marina. This was followed by a report by Robert Edwards, a City of Edmonds Stormwater Engineer, on a stormwater removal project designed to reduce flooding of Dayton Street at Highway 104, and of Harbor Square, when heavy rains occur at the same time as high tides.

Pete Hanke reported on Puget Sound Express’s second year operating whale watching tours out of the Edmonds Marina on their high speed foilcat Chilkat Express. During the 2016 season Puget Sound Express had 256 whale watching departures out of Edmonds with almost 11,000 passengers.

Puget Sound Express will provide even more opportunities to see Orca and gray whales in 2017. They will offer two daily trips during a larger part of the Orca whale watching season, and plan to operate tours year-round—adding one departure on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the time of the year when they previously didn’t offer tours. They hope to host 325 tours in 2017 with around 15,000 passengers.

Whale watchers will also enjoy an upgraded interior in the Chilkat Express in 2017, and plans are being considered for a brand new bigger boat for 2018.

Robert Edwards, City of Edmonds stormwater engineer
Anyone who has tried to get to the Edmonds’ waterfront on Dayton Street during a period of heavy rainfall and high tides is familiar with flooding that occurs on Dayton that can make that journey a soggy adventure. Robert Edwards, a City of Edmonds stormwater engineer, gave a presentation to the port commission on a stormwater removal project that should alleviate some of the flooding.

Edwards noted that not only is this flooding inconvenient for Edmonds residents and visitors who use waterfront services and businesses, but that it also has a significant economic impact on the Edmonds/Kingston ferry, buses and trains, the Port of Edmonds, Harbor Square, and on the waterfront restaurants.

To combat this flooding, the City of Edmonds has plans for a new underground pump station located in the parking lot of Arnie’s Restaurant. Above-ground equipment for the project will take up the equivalent of one parking spot and there should be minimal construction disruption—primarily for the installation of two new catch basins.

During periods of heavy rainfall, coupled with a high tide, the new 50-horsepower pump will remove stormwater, routing it to an existing outflow to Puget Sound. The project will also include new catch basins to control water inflow to Harbor Square. If water levels get too high, some of the current inflow to Harbor Square can be diverted away from Harbor Square and Dayton Street by the pump.

To date, $1 million of the $1.5 million required for the project has been obtained, and the city has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for the additional $500,000 that is still needed. If the FEMA grant is awarded and equipment can be procured in a timely manner, the project may be completed in 2017, otherwise it will be finished in 2018.

Following the presentations, the commissioners took the following actions:

    • Approved an amendment to the Port’s Attorney Retainer Agreement with Anderson Hunter Law Firm. The amendment continues the port’s relationship with Anderson Hunter through 2019.
    • Elected the Port Commission’s 2017 officers as noted previously.
    • Approved Dry Storage and Travelift Rates for 2017.
    • Approved Resolution No. 16-11, that authorizes the commitment of $75,000 by the Port of Edmonds to support Phase 2 of the Edmonds Waterfront Access Study.

— Story and photo by Michael McAuliffe

  1. It’s disappointing there are no women or people of color represented on the Edmonds port commission.

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