After considerable time was spent evaluating the types of business the Port could be successful at, we decided to move forward with a new strategic business plan which was followed up with a master plan that was conducted by planning consultants Mitchell / Nelson (who has since merged with Maul Foster Alongi).
As a group of highly charged and of diverse backgrounds, we – Dan Hess, Jim Bergeron, Don McDaniel, Bob Eaton, and myself – set in motion the tools and policy our new director (Peter Gearin) and deputy director (Bill Cook) needed to develop the port properties.
Two major events that occurred that really kicked things off were the boat haulout facility and Englund Marine. The Englund family owned Englund Marine since the beginning of time it seems. Their facility downtown Astoria was becoming problematic for them due to increased development in the area and the fact that they were growing and running out of room. It became a logistical nightmare for them so Bill and Peter put a deal together that solve Englund’s location problem and made them the port’s anchor tenant for the kickoff of our strategic business and master plan.
This strategic move for Englund made the boat haulout facility a great place for working on one’s boat since Englund caters to both the commercial and recreational boating fleets. The close proximity of Englund Marine meant if you needed a shackle or a turnbuckle, you only needed to venture a couple hundred yards to get those supplies. It’s what I would call a huge success of a plan!
Shortly after Englund set up shop, Bornsteins Seafood signed up to build a $10m fish plant that processes all kinds of fishes (and crabs too). Things were moving along nicely for the Port at this time. At about the same time Bornstein’s built their facility, the Cannery Pier Hotel, Red Building, multiple sardine processors, partners Jeff Canessa/Jason Palmberg commercial flex buildings which includes Charter Communication, P&L Johnson Mechanical, Astoria Granite, Astoria Janitor supply, and a few others I’m probably forgetting! Heck, I even jumped into the fray with an office building on Pier One (which unfortunately I am losing back to the bank).
All in all, at the end of the day, we had developed 85% of the strategic and master plan we had set out to accomplish. To this date, the port has never embarked on such an ambitious plan and accomplished so much in a short amount of time.
As a group, we had focus and we were intensely driven. We had excellent management in place to carry out the plan.
Unfortunately, the perfect storm inevitably causes damage.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the demise of our team. You pick up some bad players, quarterback gets hurt, too many fumbles, etc. We made some bad choices on a few items that eventually broke us up.
It didn’t take a genius to see the writing on the wall. The group was somewhat divided, Bill and Peter’s relationship had eroded and Bill had left the Port. It just wasn’t much fun anymore and I felt I had done all I could do so I resigned. In a subsequent election, Jim Bergeron and Don McDaniel would lose their elections to people unfit for political life. Like I said, the perfect storm turned the port upside down.
It is unfortunate there is another storm brewing. I am hoping this storm cleans the port of it’s current commission. I make no bones about it that three of these guys are just pure bad news. Eventually bad news and bad judgment becomes uncontainable and gets dealt with.
But, alas, they are all guilty of entertaining the notion of exporting logs. Yeah, finally I’m back on point.
In our next and final segment, I will lay out a path that deals with the finances, politics, and logistics of why exporting logs from the Port of Astoria doesn’t make an ounce of sense.