May 23, 2020 — The Port of Siuslaw held its regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, May 20, via audio teleconference. the meeting was chaired by Commissioner Bill Meyer, and all commissioners except Craig Brandt were in attendance.
The evening’s agenda primarily called for the commission to consider adopting a budget, in the form of Resolution 5-20-20, for the 2020-2021 fiscal year in the amount of $2,262,770.
The second important decision facing the group was when and how to reopen the port’s campground facilities.
The meeting began with a public request from Amber Novelli, who owns and runs a small seafood market and restaurant on the docks, that the port inspect the underwater area around her business for damage to her drainage and water systems.
As she sells live crab, Novelli said she needs a steady and reliable supply of water for her crab tank to ensure the creatures don’t die.
Novelli stated the recent dredging of the river bottom near her business, has somehow damaged this water system.
Commissioners were responsive to Novelli’s concerns and Port Manager David Huntington said he will follow-up on the situation and report to the commission.
During the meeting, the commission discussed with Huntington how the reopening of the Port of Siuslaw Boat Launch went on the preceding weekend.
“We had about 10 boats total and no issues whatsoever,” Huntington said. “We’ve got very clear signage that tells everybody to stay six feet apart. This upcoming Friday and Saturday Halibut season starts at all depths, and it doesn’t look like the weather is going to be that good for anybody to be able to get out and fish, so I don’t expect to see any issues this weekend either.”
Commissioners added their observations that the launching and landings of watercrafts went well and the same should be expected this weekend when traffic in and around the Port will increase due to the Memorial Day holiday.
Commission Chairman Terry Duman agreed with Huntington’s assessment and seemed pleased with the reopening of the boat launch.
“I had the opportunity to talk with Dave during the week and I feel very comfortable, personally, with what is going on,” Duman said.
The discussion then turned to the issue of reopening the campground at the port.
Huntington said the staff and the facility were ready to reopen although he was somewhat hesitant to open this weekend just in case there were unexpectedly large crowds.
“Well, right now we don’t know of any state parks that are opening up for overnight use, but some county parks are starting to open up and other ports are starting to open up their campgrounds with guidance,” Huntington said.
The meeting was held on Wednesday, after which the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced that it will offer limited camping at many state park campgrounds beginning June 9.
Meyer, who was at the Port of Siuslaw Office and moderating the meeting, offered advice regarding the schedule for reopening other ports along the coast.
“For three weeks now I’ve been on a Zoom meeting with representatives from the governor and representatives from the other commissions on the central and north coast,” he said. “One of the things they were urging is that everybody kind of open at the same time, and it sounds like in the next few days all of them will be reopening.”
There was a general sense of agreement with Meyer and Huntington’s comments from the commissioners.
Huntington suggested putting in place guidance for port visitors moving forward.
“We have come up with a Port of Siuslaw Overnight Campground and Recreation policy, with rules set in place that we think would allow us to safely reopen the campground for overnight camping if the rules are followed,” he said. “We will probably wait ‘til after this weekend, because it might be a little hectic for us to get things together.”
Huntington suggested reopening the campground sometime next week, to allow for a gradual ramp up of services and staff under the new and evolving regulations from the state, county and the city.
Commissioners were receptive to the port manager’s suggestions and Meyer put the safety of the staff as the priority of the Port Commission.
“Rather than rush this, we want to do this so staff is comfortable and make sure that things go smoothly, and I think it would be unwise to do it on what could be a very busy weekend.” Meyer said.
The rest of the commission agreed with Huntington’s plan to phase in the reopening next week as crowds thinned after the Memorial Day holiday.
The Port of Siuslaw later announced the reopen date for the campground will be Tuesday, May 26.
To ensure the Port of Siuslaw’s ability to provide overnight recreational opportunities at the facility, the following guidelines shall be followed by all users:
Failure, by any individual or group, to follow all applicable COVID 19 guidelines will constitute a violation of Port policy and may lead to a denial of services.
For more information, visit portofsiuslaw.com.