“An earlier proposal called for a big expansion of its marine terminals to handle container cargo. That brought major resistance at public meetings from nearby residents, who said a big upswing in port activities would hurt property values and their quality of life.”

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Port of Everett scales back expansion

The Port of Everett’s revised proposal targets niche markets and includes a new wharf.

By Mike Benbow
Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Port of Everett has narrowed its vision.

After angering some neighbors with a new comprehensive plan that called for a massive expansion of its container shipping terminals, the port as offered a much more modest proposal.

In its Tuesday meeting, port officials sought public comment on a new idea for updating growth plans that haven’t been changed since 1995.

An earlier proposal called for a big expansion of its marine terminals to handle container cargo. That brought major resistance at public meetings from nearby residents, who said a big upswing in port activities would hurt property values and their quality of life.

The new offering notes that “the trend to an ever increasing container traffic may, in fact, have peaked and that in the time the study had been underway significant new capacity was being planned and implemented at other West Coast ports: both factors that would direct the port away from creating a facility designed to compete directly with the major West Coast container ports.”

The new proposal, outlined Tuesday by Stan Cowdell of Westmar Consultants Corp., calls for what he described as consistent with the port’s “more modest measures” to position itself as a niche container and break bulk cargo port.

“It became really clear that the alternative (more development) would not be suitable on an economic basis or a community basis,” Cowdell said.

The new plan would develop the port’s South Terminal, but only after the port’s existing terminals are deemed inadequate to handle the demand.

That develop would likely consist of:

Demolishing the South Terminal Wharf.

Installing a new wharf of 900 feet in length and 100 feet in width that was designed to provide a minimum depth of 45 feet at low water. The size and depth would be based on Panamax vessels, which are about 900 feet long.

Regrading the upland area, paving it and installing better fire protection and utilities to deal with both containers and general loose cargo.

Port director John Mohr said the development of the redevelopment of the south terminal would cost about $100 million and would have to be done as a joint venture with a private partner who puts up most of the money.

No such partner exists now, he said. “Until you have something to show people, it’s hard to have a meaningful conversation,” Mohr said.

A number of longshoremen attended the meeting and several talked during the hearing.

“It’s not just for my future and for the people in this room,” said Mark Hoekendorf, noting that a busier port would help the entire community.

Ken Hudson for the longshoremen’s union said the industry has had a tough time in Everett, but that opportunities are increasing. “I’d like others like myself to enjoy a quality of life here that I have enjoyed,” he said.

Graham Anderson of the port said the plan would provide as many as 50 direct jobs for longshoremen and the indirect jobs attached to the project would approach 2,000.

Speaking against the plan was several people, including Bob Kerr of Everett, who said the port does not have a good track record with development proposals. “Historically, the Port of Everett has a reputation for doing their own thing without regard for your neighbors,” he said, later adding, “The Riverside Business Pork (sic) does not appear to be contributing to the local economy.”

Port officials said repeatedly that the comprehensive plan was a general vision, not a specific proposal.

They plan to review the comments and make a decision on how to procede in early July.

 

Advertisements