John Wayne Enterprises (JWE) opposes ownership of the facility by any entity other than Port Angeles

The continuing saga of the John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Washington, now sees the late actor’s estate weighing in with opposition to the sale and has informed Port Angeles that it cannot sell the facility without consent of the estate’s approval.

Faced with US$22m in piling, breakwater and float upgrades by 2035 – which the port authority cannot afford and is reluctant to ask local tax payers to fund – the port has been in discussions with the City of Sequim and the Jamestown S’Klallam Native American Tribe for a takeover as well as exploring options to sell or lease the 300-slip marina.

In the latest twist, John Wayne Enterprises (JWE) and its president, Ethan Wayne, the late actor’s son and a Sequim Bay landowner, informed the port earlier this month that the company opposes ownership of the marina by any entity other than the port. JWE deeded the property to the port in 1981 specifically for the development of a public marina.

“The Wayne family did not give away tens of millions of dollars (in today’s dollars) or its private beachfront property so that the port could sell it to another owner,” Wayne said in an email to John Nutter, port director of properties, marinas and airports, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

“We are prepared to express our opposition to the sale, our disappointment and justified anger publicly.”

The most publicised current option – potential ownership of the marina by the city of Sequim and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe – may place JWE’s investment of ownership of land around the marina “at risk”, Wayne said.

JWE owns 105 acres next to the marina valued at US$3.6m and zoned for planned-resort-community development, and has hired the international law firm Perkins Coie, which has a Seattle branch, to represent its interests.

“It is very frustrating to think John Wayne Enterprises may be asked by the port to buy back the land that was gifted to the public, solely to protect this investment,” Wayne said.

Karen Goschen, port executive director, told the paper Wednesday she disagrees that the port cannot sell the facility.

She added that the port has not determined if it will sell it, although the decision has been made not to sell it to a private buyer so as to keep it open to the public.

Goschen said commissioners will consider, by February, approving language for a request-for-information solicitation to potential marina buyers and lessees for “conceptual business models” to take over responsibility for the marina.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the city of Sequim have agreed to split the cost of an $80,000 due-diligence study to determine the scope and cost of marina upgrades before responding the RFI, City Manager Charlie Bush said.

The study should be completed in April or May, he added.