Port commission signals it wants to take over Satsop Business Park

Port of Grays Harbor commissioners are on record as saying they’re interested in taking over control of the Satsop Business Park.

The three commissioners Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution supporting consolidating the Port and the public development authority that governs the business park “and accepting all of the assets and liabilities of the (PDA) for the betterment of Grays Harbor County residents.”

Port Executive Director Gary Nelson said discussions about the merger have been ongoing this summer, and that Grays Harbor County currently is planning a workshop to address public questions about the proposal. The county, which created the PDA, must approve a resolution allowing the merger to go forward.

In the past few months, Satsop Business Park CEO Tami Garrow has conducted two presentations before the county commissioners. A resolution has been drafted, but not yet approved by the county commissioners.

The county commissioners have set a public hearing on the merger for 6 p.m. Aug. 27.

“Essentially, we thought it would help the PDA board in its deliberations” to have the Port commissioners take action, Nelson said.

Port attorney Art Blauvelt, who also acts as the PDA’s attorney, drafted the language for the resolution, which says the Port “will want to conduct appropriate due diligence and investigation of the assets and liabilities” of the PDA prior to acceptance of such a merger.

When the public development authority was set it up in 1996 it included representatives from the Port, the Grays Harbor PUD and from county government. Blauvelt noted that the Port was represented initially by Commissioner Jack Thompson, who still serves on the PDA board.

The idea, he said, was to use the infrastructure at the site of the abandoned Washington Public Power Supply System nuclear project and turn it into a business park and generate jobs. The full PDA was then commissioned in August 1998.

“The Public Development Authority has made substantial progress through the construction of buildings, the installation of infrastructure and recruiting businesses,” Blauvelt said.

The primary goals of the PDA and the Port are essentially the same, he said, to create economic opportunities and development. And the PDA charter allows another body to assume the assets through a transfer, the attorney added.

“And the Port of Grays Harbor meets the qualifications,” Blauvelt said.

Nelson assured the commissioners that the vote on the resolution did not bind the Port to anything final.

“I just want to reaffirm that all this is just you communicating to the PDA board the terms under which you would consider taking it over,” Nelson said. “It’s not saying you’re going to take it over. It’s just a communications tool.”