The Wrangell Port Commission contemplated longer leases in the marine service center Tuesday. Current lease options last five years. Commissioner Clay Hammer mentioned some lease holders asked for longer options to provide fiscal stability and incentivize lenders to loan money to potential buyers of boat yard businesses.
The discussion lasted over an hour. Hammer and several other members noted their concerns by referencing advice given by a Washington State boat yard.
“They don’t recommend we extend these too far for fear that we would lose some control over the direction of things and quite possibly get all of our eggs wrapped up in one particular basket or another,” said Hammer.
Port commissioners also discussed rate increases if lease agreements were longer. Harbormaster Greg Meissner explained that the harbor decides monthly payments based on what it costs to store a boat. Boats are typically stored for eight months out of the year.
“So for you to have it for 12 months, how do we convert your 12 months into this eight months’ worth of dollar value? It turned out to be 8 cents a square foot covered it,” said Meissner. “We said if we’re going to displace eight boats, it’s so much a square foot value for storage, here you go, that’s our starting point.”
The current rate to store a boat is about 33 cents per square foot. There are seven vendors leasing lots in the yard currently. Rates vary based on when a lot was leased and if the price increased during the bidding process.
Meissner and several commissioners agreed it would be best to get the borough assessor’s input on the value of lots prior to renewing leases. The commission plans to hold another workshop on the issue with borough assessor, but did not set a date.
There was also talk over language restricting access to the boat yard. The commission voted last month to restrict the public’s access after the 2017 summer season due to safety concerns. Meissner adamantly argued only to allow boat yard workers, vessel owners and harbor staff. He also noted he wanted to add gates to both entrances in the future.
Hammer cautioned against being too restrictive saying it may have an adverse effect.
“Restricting it as a restricted access area and the authorized personnel signage, I think this is going to take care of the majority of our problems,” he said. “But, I think if we get too carried away with, it may have the reverse affect and somehow restrict access to the vendors out there.”
Hammer suggested creating a permitting process to allow unauthorized groups in the industrial area such as a school field trip. Meissner said that could result in too much access and would rather have those people call the harbor office and be escorted.
The decision was tabled until Meissner can work with the borough attorney to craft the language and a policy or ordinance can be put in place.