The future of the John Wayne Marina in Washington state remains uncertain following a Port of Port Angeles commissioners’ meeting on Thursday; but public sentiment prevailed, as officials decided against selling the marina to a private developer and ruled out a property tax referendum aimed at funding the US$22 million needed to fund breakwater and float improvements.
Port commissioners also decided to solicit the interest of local governments — the marina is in the Sequim city limits — as well as Native American tribes and nonprofit entities in acquiring the marina.
A consultant hired to facilitate “listen sessions” among area residents told the board, that “the overall response was that most lack confidence that public access would be protected, even with deed restrictions,” Crossroads Consulting owner Holly O’Neil said.
According to the Peninsula Daily News, the port developed the marina in the 1980s on land donated for a marina by the late actor John Wayne.
Wayne’s late son Michael told port officials in 1995 that sale to a private owner “violates the spirit and intent of your original understandings and relationship with the donors.”
Port officials have said that as a recreational facility does not fit the port’s mission to create jobs and that it has yet to generate the remaining $1.3 million from $6.2 million in capital outlay the port spent on building it.
Port commission president Connie Beauvais said some important questions remain to be answered about the marina’s infrastructure. “We are still trying to find the best way to pay for the improvements that need to be made in the future to keep [the marina] the way it is. For me, the issue is about, is the port the right entity to do that,” she said.
The commissioners’ unanimous rejection of selling the marina to a private developer has put in limbo an upcoming hearing on the facility, scheduled for August 17.
After port officials decided in March to consider selling it to a private developer, Sequim city officials said the city shoreline master program does not allow the marina to be privately operated, setting up the hearing examiner showdown.
Simon Barnhart, the port deputy executive director and legal counsel, said after the meeting Thursday that he will talk with Sequim City Attorney Kristina Nelson Gross about whether the port will withdraw the appeal since the commissioners no longer are considering a private owner for the marina.