By Rolf Boone, October 15, 2013, The Olympian
The Port of Olympia has set in motion a plan to build a second warehouse on the marine terminal, a building the port says it needs to accommodate its growing volume of cargo.
The port disclosed its plans through a notice that was issued to the public as part of the state Environmental Policy Act process, which includes a comment period and an appeal process about the proposed warehouse.
The new, 50,000-square-foot warehouse, which is slightly smaller than the current 76,000-square-foot building, is proposed to be built between the existing warehouse and the port’s administrative building.
The estimated cost of the project is $2.7 million, with funding for the project to be provided by a recent port bond issue and port reserves, finance director Jeff Smith said Monday.
He added the total cost might be less than that if the port receives a favorable bid for the project, similar to a recent dredge bid that came in much lower than expected.
Work on the warehouse is expected to begin in mid-2014 and then be completed in four months, according to a number of items the port had to answer as part of an environmental checklist.
The warehouse is needed, Smith said, because of cargo volumes.
The existing warehouse is filled with bagged ceramic proppants, a material used in a gas and oil extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
The warehouse is so full that the bagged ceramic proppants are being stored outdoors under tarps, but the port tenants have requested that the materials be stored indoors, he said.
The port also imports steel coil and pipes for various customers, and those customers have asked the port to keep those indoors as well so those products aren’t exposed to the elements, Smith said.
Port of Olympia Commissioner Jeff Davis, who is defending his District 3 seat in the Nov. 5 election, was guardedly optimistic about the second warehouse, saying he wants to be sure the cargoes are there to justify the investment.
“It’s important to me to not be premature on this,” he said.
Sue Gunn, who is challenging Davis for his seat, said the port might be better served by spending the money elsewhere.
“The contract for the tenant at the warehouse is not guaranteed, so they could leave any time, just like the Russian shipping company (Sunmar) that left the cranes sitting unused,” Gunn said in an email to The Olympian. “Thurston County would be better off if the port used that $2.7 million to support local small businesses.”
The port is accepting comments for its warehouse proposal until 5 p.m. Oct. 25. Comments may be addressed to Alexandra Smith, Port of Olympia, 915 Washington St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98501. A 21-day appeal period follows the end of the comment period.