Three of the 18 graving yard proposals come from county

By Janet Huck
Port Townsend Leader Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

One of the more unexpected graving yard proposals came from Security Services Northwest Inc. and Discovery Bay Land Co., with 100 acres of Discovery Bay waterfront to construct the giant pontoons and anchors for renovation of the Hood Canal Bridge. This view is looking south at Contractor's Point. U.S. Highway 101 is to the right just out of view. Photo by U.S. Army 1st Special Forces

Three of the 18 proposals for the relocation of the state Department of Transportation's graving yard site are in Jefferson County: Mats Mats Bay, Discovery Bay and Port Townsend Bay.

The DOT's goal is to keep the graving yard in Puget Sound, said Lloyd Brown, DOT communications manager. "If we had our way, we'd keep it on the Olympic Peninsula," Brown said. "We want to spend our money at home, with 70 percent of the $204 million project coming here."

Four of the 18 proposals are from Clallam County.

DOT requested proposals by Jan. 10 after the DOT chose to relocate its graving yard from Port Angeles. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe requested the DOT stop work after more than 200 prehistoric burials were unearthed. The 22-acre site was supposed to be used as a dry dock to build concrete pontoons for the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. The request for proposals drew 18 offers from private property owners, corporations and/or public ports.

One of the more surprising offers came from Security Services Northwest Inc. and Discovery Bay Land Co., with 100 acres on the western shore of Discovery Bay.

The Port Townsend Paper Corp., in a much more publicized move, joined the Port of Port Townsend in a multi-site proposal totaling 40 acres on Port Townsend Bay.

Seattle-based Glacier Northwest suggested its 120-acre Mats Mats Quarry just north of Port Ludlow.

Proposals were delivered by e-mail and U.S. mail. The Port of Port Townsend hand-delivered its proposal Jan 7, and about 10 packages were waiting at DOT on Monday morning.

"I don't think anybody drove a car into the window to get our attention, though," joked Patrick Clarke, floating bridge and special structures design manager with DOT.

The competition is stiff, said PT Port Executive Director Larry Crockett. Other strong applications represented the ports of Tacoma and Anacortes. In Clallam County, the Makah Tribe on Neah Bay and Rayonier Inc., with former mill property next to the now abandoned graving yard site, were two of the four submittals.

Now DOT officials and a specially convened panel of national and regional experts on construction and marine environmental issues are starting to sift through the 18 new graving yard proposals. Brown said he expects the panel to take six to eight weeks, and he indicated a final decision might not be made until March.

"I know people are anxious, but they're not as anxious as we are to get back to work," Brown said.

Brown said the DOT would consider multiple sites such as the Port Townsend proposal, but officials were not interested in doing a great deal of environmental mitigation, saying that lengthy mitigation would cause further delays in the permitting process.

"We were able to permit the Port Angeles site in one year," Brown said, commenting that the process was "quicker than normal."

Discovery Bay site

Security Services Northwest Inc. (SSNW), an armored car, maritime security and alarm company owned by Joseph D'Amico, and Discovery Bay Land Co., owned by the Gunstone family, offered 100 acres of waterfront property on Discovery Bay between Contractor's Point and Gardiner. The undeveloped land that was traditionally used in the 20th century for forestry and shellfish farming has easy access to Highway 101, a 450-foot pier and a deep water port that requires little dredging.

Called Fort Discovery, the site is part of a larger piece of property, so it could also be used for the future graving yard work on the 520 Bridge. According to D'Amico, there are no apparent environmental issues. The area is presently zoned for forestry and residents.

Community Development Director Al Scalf said this site would need a zoning and shoreline review that would automatically trigger an environmental impact statement.

"We are concerned about the impact on our neighbors," said D'Amico, although the area has fewer residential neighbors than the other Jefferson County proposals.

The main advantage may be its central location.

"We are 30 minutes from Port Townsend, 30 minutes from Port Angeles and 30 minutes from the Hood Canal Bridge," said D'Amico. "It would be good for Jefferson County, and the work force could be split between Port Angeles and Port Townsend."

The two private companies applied upon a SSNW office manager's off-hand suggestion. After D'Amico consulted the Gunstone family, he submitted a five-page proposal that was accompanied by a 39-page PowerPoint presentation. D'Amico is encouraged by the DOT's initial response.

Mats Mats site

DOT officials asked the Seattle-based Glacier Northwest to consider offering a proposal for its 120-acre Mats Mats rock quarry site four miles north of Port Ludlow the nearest of any site to the Hood Canal Bridge. Ron Summers, vice president and general manager of Glacier's Washington division, said company officials sent the DOT a letter offering Mats Mats Quarry. The quarry has been an active industrial site since the 1930s but has been idle since last year.

Mats Mats has several distinct advantages. A new environment review uncovered no concerns, at least for mining, said Summers. It's not so distant from Clallam County, where a graving yard work force has already been hired, and it's on the water so barges could be used extensively to reduce highway truck traffic.

Since the quarry is zoned as mineral resource land, Scalf said Glacier Northwest would have to prepare for zoning and shoreline review plus an environmental impact statement.

"It's important to balance the job impacts against the impacts to the neighbors," said Summers. "We take those impacts very seriously."

The quarry operation has been subject to intense scrutiny the past seven or eight years by residential neighbors who have protested the noise of blasting, hours of operation and Glacier Northwest's goal of digging deeper to extend the quarry's use.

Port Townsend site

The Port of Port Townsend and Port Townsend Paper's proposal topped 50 pages, with nearly 20 letters and e-mails of support, including Port Angeles unions, county and city government, and the Port Ludlow Village Council.

The port property within the city limits and the mill site together offer about 40 acres with 2,000 feet of shoreline. Fred Hill Materials, which was providing the batch plant operation for the Port Angeles graving yard, has a batch plant two miles away.

"The mill site, we feel, is capable of handling your entire project, but, with the port acreage being nearby, it may be beneficial to split the work between the two locations," wrote Larry Crockett.

The mill offered 25.75 acres that encompass a manmade retention pond and adjacent upland acres, a 600-foot pier and excellent road access. It is already zoned for heavy industrial use.

The port can dedicate 18 acres, including 11 acres of tidelands, a 275-space parking facility at the nearby Haines Place Park-and-Ride, and a 330-ton mobile hoist. It is zoned for marine industry.

At a signing ceremony Jan. 7, Herb Beck, port commission chairman, said it was a great day despite the snowy weather. Crockett and Deputy Director Jim Pivarnik drove on icy roads to Olympia to hand-deliver three copies of the proposals to the DOT in Olympia.

(Reporter Sarah J. Bell contributed to this story.)



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