The first glimpses of the island guest and islanders have as they arrive, either by sailing in off the water or as their plane descends to the airport, is port-run properties. The port staff and commissioners have been working hard creating a strategic plan, and during their regular June 8 meeting held a public hearing on the draft plan.
“I’m excited about all the things you have been able to work in,” San Juan Islander Eric Eisenhardt said. “I think the port should focus on creating stuff for the public good, like a clean waterfront, or jobs in the marine trade, and avoid the temptation of the lucrative cash that could be generated by, like, another Roche Harbor.”
Those who live on boats at the Friday Harbor marina might be happy to hear a remodel of the port’s bathrooms is on the list of short-term goals in the draft plan. Utility upgrades are also cited, along with the long-term goal of replacing old walkways.
At the fuel pier, projects listed include pier ramp and float maintenance, replacing the underground tanks is on the to-do list.
Short and long-term goals for Albert Jensen and Sons Marina include storm and water and utility systems upgrades as well as environmental clean-up.
“We’ve acquired approval from the Department of Ecology for the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study scope of work. We will be doing additional sampling to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about the full extent of the contamination,” executive director Todd Nicholson told the Journal after the hearing. “We have a good handle on what contaminants are involved and how much area is impacted. We still need to determine how deep it goes.”
Additional sampling will take place this fall, according to Nichols, and may entail a third round of sampling. Once the sampling is completed the port will begin a Feasibility Study. “[The study will] present options and costs associated with the actual cleanup and some redevelopment,” Nicholson said.
Jackson Beach will ultimately maintain its existing feel and character, but commercial kayak use will be relocated to the east of Jackson Beach. Improving parking at the boat ramp is also part of the short-term goals for the area.
The Friday Harbor Airport goals include replacing A and B hangers, constructing a port shop and building for storing a snow plow, and build, lease or providing ground leases to suitable tenants.
As far as non-aeronautical uses, the plan cites creating long-term revenue streams to support the airport’s operations and maintenance as one of the short-term goals. In that vein, increasing occupancy on both Weber Way and Spring Street parcels, conducting market value appraisals every five years and create a vision plan for land south of the airport, along Cattle Point Road.
San Juan Islander Marilyn Gresseth expressed concern about developing the southern parcels and urged the commissioners to keep it agricultural.
“Ligh industrial is a bad idea,” she said. “It should be kept rural agricultural for non-industry use,” Gresseth suggested areas where farmers and crafter could sell their products, or perhaps a picnic area, fitting in with the network of trails already established.
Nicholson told the Journal after the hearing that whatever scenario, the network of trails through the property will remain.
“The trail system will be maintained in all possible scenarios at the airport. Some options would require minor rerouting of some sections of the trail but the walking connection through the airport properties will remain,” he said.
Gresseth also pointed out that some of the lands are a mere 735 feet from the shoreline, and a study commissioned by the airport contained environmental concerns.
“The run-off goes straight into the bay,” Gresseth said, adding that people whose families have lived on the island for generations have told her shellfish once thrived along the shoreline. “It’s all gone. Ever since the runway expanded apparently,” She said.
The commissioners are currently working to integrate public comments into the plan and encourage continuous feedback.
Nicholson pointed out that the exercise will continue as master plans for Jensen, the airport, and other properties are developed. The comments made during this strategic plan will follow the work in those documents.
“Though the comment period is closed, an email, meeting, we are always open to input. We are always open to hearing people’s thoughts,” Port Commissioner Graham ‘Gib’ Black said. Other commissioners echoed agreement.
To view the draft plan visit https://www.portfridayharbor.org/strategic-plan-draft/.