Above: Members of the Port of Olympia citizen advisory committee met with port commissioners on February 17 to discuss their 2015 work plan.
By Janine Unsoeld
Port of Olympia commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor met with the port’s 14 member citizen advisory committee on Tuesday, February 17 to discuss committee’s 2015 work plan.
The committee has five new members who are starting three year terms. Out of seven who applied, five new members were chosen by port executive director Ed Galligan, Commissioner McGregor, and committee chair John Hurley, based on a number of criteria.
At a November 24, 2014 commissioner meeting, the last meeting port commissioner Sue Gunn attended due to health issues, Gunn stated that she would like to change how the members are selected so that it is in open session with all three commissioners.
Committee members were asked to take on four tasks for the year: research transparency issues, refine a protocol for the naming of port facilities, help develop the port’s vision statement, and conduct a self-evaluation of their work as a committee.Tasks for the committee are created and assigned to the Port's citizen advisory committee by the commissioners. It was made clear that the group had to accept the tasks, although many clearly had no enthusiasm to revisit protocols for naming port facilities, since they did a thorough review of the subject last year. McGregor wanted the group to essentially say to the commissioners, “do it or don’t it.”
The commissioners said it would be of value to the port to have the committee investigate and report back on the issue of transparency.
Questions the commissioners asked the committee to explore are: What is an acceptable definition of transparency in government and, in particular, the Port of Olympia? What has the Port done to improve transparency over the past few years and what additional measures can the port do to improve transparency? What is it that citizens want to see improved as it relates to Port transparency? What is the overall feeling of citizens as it relates to transparency?
Regarding this last question, commissioners stated that a public hearing may be required by the committee as part of their information gathering effort.
Among other requests, the commissioners asked the committee to comment on the commission’s meetings and work sessions in terms of meeting frequency, time of day, length of meeting and content.
A detailed scope of work asks that the group look at commission meeting materials, compare the Port of Olympia to at least three other regional ports and at least two other local jurisdictions.
The group has a deadline for this task of September 2015.Naming Protocols
Members were not keen on revisiting a task to examine how the port would go about naming facilities after individuals if so desired. The committee reported back to the commission and gave several recommendations in a detailed 2014 report, and committee member Clydia Cuykendall said that it was not a good use of the group’s time to revisit the issue. She noted that the port has received only one naming request in the past 10 years. The deadline for this task is June 2015.Vision Statement
The commissioners and port staff will be working on the development of a vision statement as part of a two day strategic planning retreat currently scheduled for the end of March.The committee was asked to choose from one of the sample vision statements that will be provided to them by the commissioners. If none of the sample vision statements are preferred, they are to suggest language changes. A deadline for this is to be determined.
Committee Self-EvaluationThe group is tasked with conducting a self-evaluation on the use of a citizen advisory committee. The group must compare and contrast its formation and work with at least four regional ports and at least three local jurisdictions and quasi-governmental entities. The deadline for this task is September 2015.
Committee members divided themselves up between committees. New members asked questions from whether or not the airport or the port really makes any money, to the status of the Mazama pocket gophers at the airport property.Cuykendall wondered why the committee wasn’t included to comment on the Tumwater Real Estate Master Plan, and what the difference was between their past work, and the work of the new port advisory committee for the port’s properties in New Market.
Port of Olympia New Market Industrial Campus and Tumwater Town Center Real Estate Development Master PlanThis latest study is a master plan being coordinated by the Thurston Regional Planning Commission. The Port of Olympia owns over 500 acres of real estate in Tumwater, excluding the Olympia Regional Airport. The property may be developed for commercial, industrial or other uses. In response to questions from committee members, port executive director Ed Galligan admitted that the gophers, now listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, present a serious impediment to growth on the property.
The port’s master plan group will have a public workshop about the development of this plan on Thursday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn Conference Center, 1620 74th Avenue SW, Tumwater.For more information about the New Market Master Plan, go to www.trpc.org/PortofOlympiaProject.
For more information about the Port of Olympia, go to www.portolympia.com.