THH

A nearly four-hour regular meeting of the Port of Tillamook Bay (POTB) Board of Commissioners on Aug. 20 covered a wide variety of topics, including airport improvement plans and a manure spill update.

A major topic that was discussed at the meeting was the port water system. Currently, the Port purchases water through the City of Tillamook and distributes it to tenants and users. This adds cost to the Port, as they have their own certifications and testing to comply and maintain.

The City distribution lines traverse the Port property from the back of the industrial park under the airport runways and out at the intersection of Highway 101 and Long Prairie Road. There have been discussions in the past on a possible re-route of the City lines to a safer location.

The Port also has available water rights to five wells that have not been fully developed. One well, located in the main industrial park was established but not yet developed, and the other available wells are in a different location within the Port’s almost 1,600 acres.

“We have been exploring the idea of self-supplying water recently due to the City’s major increase in water rates, specifically because we pay, as well as other districts – Long Prairie Water, South Prairie, etc. – an outside rate which is much higher than in-city rates,” Michelle Bradley, POTB general manager, said.

Port project coordinator Aaron Palter met with the Tillamook city officials at the end of June to discuss the January letter the Port had written. Palter said Tillamook City Manager Paul Wyntergreen was going to propose to the city council a small change in the water structure rate to classify outside water districts as commercial users. Palter requested more of a rate reduction during that public meeting.

“I didn’t get a sense that it was well received,” Palter said. “But at the very least, I believe, or hope that we are able to get this commercial rate.”

Wyntergreen reportedly plans to approach the finance committee at the end of August or September to discuss the letter and the request for the reduced rate. The Port’s rate and other outside rates could be cut in half by the reduction.

Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency has the main line. GSI Water Solutions, Inc. did a water system analysis for the Port, which is planning to have its own water system at some point in the future. The Port pays $160,000 per year for water from Tillamook.

The board then discussed a manure spill that occurred July 22. Jack Mulder, commission president, said that the response from the Port staff was excellent. Bradley reportedly spoke daily with the board and Port staff about what was going on.

The manure spill water was used for fields near the Port. 320,000 gallons of clean water were put back in the system. Bradley confirmed that the Department of Environmental Quality did additional testing at the outfall a couple of weeks ago but there are no results yet.

The digester is updating its logistical plan and should now have internet to help monitor. Bradley said that the staff did a good job of jumping on the incident.

There will be additional nighttime training for board members in late September or October for those who couldn’t attend the recent trainings that were held during the day.

Amended Resolution 2019-2020 No. 3, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Grant for environmental/planning at Tillamook Municipal Airport, was approved. The Port had received notice from the FAA regarding a $100,000 grant for its next slated airport improvement project, which will be the first phase of its main apron improvement. Subsequently, the FAA modified the amount to $150,000, which the amended resolution reflects.

The first phase of the main apron improvement project will cover the mandated environmental and engineering phase of future expansion near the Tillamook Municipal Airport’s main apron. During the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) project days, one project was replacing the airport’s aging office (about 500 square feet) with a new office – about 3,100 square feet with a conference room, large lobby, kitchenette, pilot room, overnight room, and observation/staff radio room. That reduced the number of apron tie-downs and reconfigured the traffic pattern on the apron.

Also on the agenda was consideration of a memorandum of agreement between POTB and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FEMA for POTB logistical support during a federally declared disaster, which was passed by the board. Agencies such as FEMA and other local agencies have been working on this for years. The Port is involved as a hub for disaster planning due to the airport location.

“We are one of the top four airports listed in the Oregon Resilience Plan, falling behind Central Oregon locations,” Bradley said. “We are one of the few coastal airports that isn’t right on the water. We also have the benefit of co-location with the Near Space Corporation, who could instantly launch an unmanned aerial system/balloon to assist with communication if the cell towers and phones are out.”

Bradley said that the POTB isn’t paid for this; it’s a survival instinct. The Tillamook County Fairgrounds doesn’t have a staging area like this, so the POTB is vital.

During the meeting, new Port commissioner Gerry Opdahl said he wants research to be done regarding what could be recorded in executive session notes. He did not approve the minutes of the previous session.

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