County, Port District 2 consider land transfer at Vista Park


February 27, 2020

A transfer of land from Wahkiakum County to Port District 2 could lead to improvements at Skamokawa Vista Park.

Port 2 officials presented the request for the transfer to the county board of commissioners on Tuesday; the county officials were receptive to the request and said they would look into it.

Also Tuesday, officials discussed the delay of a drydock closure of the ferry Oscar B. and acted on other business.

The 13.5 acre parcel in question is a steep, timbered hillside on the north side of Vista Park. Yurts and other campsites lie close to the parcel's southern and eastern border.

The port would use the parcel to expand camping facilities and access, said Port Manager Jeff Smith. Existing yurts are located at the end of a dead end road that becomes congested in the busy summer season, said Port Manager Jeff Smith. Port staff would like to extend the road across the parcel and connect to the park's main road. Park staff would like to build trails and campsites on the parcel, too, and the crew could better keep landscaping under control where the woods border the park.

"There's a lot of possibilities," Smith said.

"A walking trail would be a bonus," said Commissioner Mike Backman, commenting that recreational facilities boost economic activity.

Commissioners said they were agreeable to the no-cost transfer, but they wanted to check with the prosecuting attorney and gather some public input before taking action.

"My ask is that the port join the Council of Governments," Backman said, "so everybody else knows what's going on and you'd be at the table [in economic development planning]."

In other business, officials discussed the delay in a drydock closure for the county ferry.

The closure was originally scheduled to start last Monday and run through March 4.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the county public works department announced that the closure had been delayed to March 11.

Skamokawa resident Kay Walters asked for an explanation for the delay.

"The boat yard had an emergency repair that's taking longer than expected," said Public Works Director Chuck Beyer. "We got pushed back."

Walters commented that she didn't hear of the delay until after it had started, even though she had signed up for the county's new alert system. When she called the public works office, staff could provide no explanation, she said.

Staff hadn't gotten the word, Beyer said.

Commissioners also told Cathlamet Town Council Members David Olson and Bill Wainwright they would support their proposal to apply for a grant to install charging stations for electric vehicles around the county; they approved a $25,000 bid from Renaud Electric to install a ductless heatpump for the hallways at the Grays River Valley Center; and in response to a question from Puget Island resident Sylvia Costich concerning lack of warning to the publica about potential at the James River Pulp and Paper Mill, Sheriff Mark Howie said the county's emergency management director has good communication with mill managers and would be able to alert people in case of an emergency.


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