Harbor ports receive CERB grants

The Port of Grays Harbor will receive $1 million and the Port of Willapa $500,000 from a round of grants announced this week by the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board.

In all, 18 projects statewide will split $10.9 million in grants for building public infrastructure to support community revitalization and economic development efforts.

The Port of Grays Harbor gets the money for freight corridor improvements at Terminal 4, while the Port of Willapa gets a grant for redevelopment at the Tokeland Marina.

“Strategic infrastructure funding is the foundation of economic growth,” said Mark Urdahl, CERB Chair. “Local jurisdictions need these public services to attract and support businesses and jobs.”

Economic development grants support business recruitment and retention projects connected to the creation of direct family-wage jobs. Community revitalization grants target projects which revitalize downtown business districts and increase local economic activity. Grants from both of these programs must be used for infrastructure construction.

Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson said the money will be used for terminal upgrades and for paving to support the Port’s burgeoning auto exporting businsses with Pasha Automtive Services.

Nelson noted that for receiving the funds, the Port is obligated to spend $2 million over the next two years for improvements at Terminal 4.

“That could be paving, it could be pile-cap replacement. It’s making sure the facility is capable of serving us well into the future,” Nelson said.

Pasha will spend $3 million on a new auto-processing facility as well, he added. Under the grant, the projects have to be completed within two years.

“These are projects that have already been identified and projects we’ve got to do,” Nelson said.

Port of Willapa Manager Rebecca Chaffee noted that an additional $794,000 in state Recreation, Conservation Office funds also have been awarded for Tokeland Marina upgrades related to recreational boating facility upgrades.

Several years ago a group of local citizens with the participation of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, Pacific County, the Tokeland-North Cove Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Willapa Harbor, the Economic Development Council, the local Audubon Society and commercial and sport fishermen formed “Sustainable Tokeland” to plan and implement community enhancement projects. The group hosted a number of community-wide planning meetings, and upgrades to the marina were identified as a top priority and a marina master plan was developed, Chaffee said. “For many years the future of the marina has been in jeopardy, because of the high cost of dredging,” she said.

In 2009, the Port invested in a hydraulic suction dredge and initiated an ongoing maintenance dredging program. “With dredging issues under control, the Port is now undertaking a long overdue redevelopment of the Tokeland Marina,” she said.

Existing facilities, including moorage floats, a commercial dock and RV Park are minimal and in poor condition. Restrooms are limited to portable toilets. There is moorage for only 20 recreational and 22 commercial boats. Moorage is leased annually with a long waiting list. Lack of moorage forces most boaters to launch and retrieve daily, creating ramp gridlock, Chaffee said.

The commercial dock also has been taken out of service because of its unsafe condition.

For more information about CERB and to view the list of grant recipients, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/cerb.