Port 1 board leery of seaplane plan
November 17, 2022
Pilot Brian Fleming approached the Wahkiakum County Port 1 Board of Commissioners, wanting to restart a conversation about bringing a hangar to the Elochoman Slough Marina for personal and commercial activity, and talked about the potential the location had for becoming a place for pilots to stopover on long flights up and down the coast.
“I’d like to look toward operating a commercial flying service out of the marina area,” Fleming said. “I want to stay off the channel. Ideally I’d like a couple hundred feet of water frontage where we can put a couple floating hangars and a nice seaplane dock.”
“I think all of us would, but I am reluctant to have it within the marina itself,” Commissioner Brett Deaton said, commenting on the size of Fleming’s current hangar in Scappoose, which he had viewed during earlier discussions.
Fleming admitted he wanted something even bigger. He said he understood concerns about competing with boats during fishing season, but thought there might be some opportunity for spots outside the marina proper.
Fleming suggested that they experiment with a little marketing and some sightseeing work with the plane he has, and if it is successful, he would get a bigger seaplane, more appropriate for commercial work. It would require a hangar even bigger than the one he already has.
“It would be nice to have enough space that we could conceivably have a hangar big enough for two airplanes, or two hangars, and a sizable seaplane dock, where we could have transient planes come in that are coming in up and down the coast,” he said.
The next seaplane base south of Renton where someone could get fuel and tie for the night was in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fleming added.
“The area is pretty enough, it would draw people in,” he said. “People can tie up, get their planes out of the water on a ramp. It could be pretty popular.”
“It was just siting for me,” Commissioner Scott Anderson said, adding his concerns about “the logistic nightmare during fishing season if it were inside the marina.”
The commissioners were interested in continuing the conversation.
“I’m always down to support more business in town,” Commissioner James Sorensen said.
Port Manager Todd Souvenir talked about the potential need for docks, gangways, pilings, power, and sewer.
In other business, commissioners adopted three resolutions. One approved the 2023 budget of $1,365,275, the second approved new rates for 2023, and the third was a regular one percent property tax levy increase of $775.18 for a total 2023 levy of $78,293.13.
Commissioners also authorized the port manager to sign a right of entry for Spectrum, which will provide internet to the new brewery building.
Souvenir said the port had received bids for two projects to power the dike and the Riverview area at the marina. After some discussion, the commissioners approved the lowest bids, which was a $13,620 plus Washington state sales tax bid for the Riverview project from Busack, and a $30,850 plus Washington state sales tax bid for the dike project from Busack.
Souvenir said Wahkiakum County Commissioners agree to give the port $4,000 a year to help with the cost of maintaining the restrooms at County Line Park.