Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, Sept. 16 @ 3:24 p.m. / Infrastructure, Local Government
Crescent City Harbor Pursues $7.3 Million Federal Grant to Replace Seawall, Commits to $1.8 Million Match Spread Out Over Five Years
Crescent City Harbor officials committed to contributing 25 percent — about $1.8 million — toward the cost of replacing a seawall the harbormaster says is well beyond its lifespan.
The commitment is a step in the process for the Harbor District to receive a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Port Infrastructure Development Program, according to Harbormaster Tim Petrick. The Harbor District's 25 percent contribution brings the total amount to $9.2 million, he said.
“A step in the process toward receiving that award is they needed verification that we could come up with the match,” Petrick told the Outpost, adding that once they receive the grant the Harbor District could negotiate a reduced amount for its contribution to the project. “Now, obviously we don’t have that on hand available to just put into it today. But the match is spread out over five years.”
The harbor’s infrastructure, including the seawall near Citizens Dock, will need about $50 million in repairs and replacements over the next decade, according to Petrick.
Though the port got a new inner boat basin following tsunamis in 2006 and 2011 thanks to a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the outer boat basin hasn’t been touched, which means Citizens Dock is at the end of its lifespan, Petrick said. The three other docks used by fish processors still function, but they're beyond repair as well.
And the seawall around the outer boat basin from 160 Anchor Way — the old Beacon Burger — around the Chartroom to the launch ramp also needs significant repair or replacement, Petrick said.
“Every penny in grant funding toward infrastructure we will accept and apply toward infrastructure replacement or repair,” he said. “We can then use it to generate more revenue which will help us meet matches for more funding. It’ll be a cyclical thing.”
The Crescent City Harbor District is expected to receive the actual $7.3 million Department of Transportation award early next year, Petrick said. He said he hopes to complete the project in 2024.
As for their match, that is money the district would put into the seawall replacement project itself. Petrick said this could be a combination of staff time or other grant funding such as the $320,000 the district received in COVID assistance money.
The Crescent City Harbor District could also use tax revenue or loans it takes against future revenue toward the $1.8 million match for the seawall project, Petrick said.
The resolution harbor commissioners unanimously approved Wednesday specifically refers to Measure C. Approved by voters in 2018, the measure raised the transiency occupancy tax in unincorporated Del Norte County from 8 percent to 10 percent with the additional 2 percent to be allocated to the Harbor District. The tax measure also implemented a 2 percent TOT on spaces rented at RV parks.
Revenue from that tax was to pay off the USDA loan that helped pay for the new inner boat basin and to pay for repairs at the port, according to the resolution.
According to Del Norte County Tax Collector Barbara Lopez, the tax went into effect in 2019 and in its first year generated $140,558 for the harbor. In 2021-22 the Crescent City Harbor District received $272,688 in TOT dollars as a result of Measure C.
The Crescent City Harbor District has conducted two estimates on the seawall near Citizens Dock over the past few years, Petrick said. With today’s product and labor costs, he estimated the price tag for replacing the seawall would be about $6 million. The project would also include replacing the parking lot behind the seawall, he said.
Funding that’s left over could be put toward preparing for another infrastructure project at the port, Petrick said.
“It’s my understanding that in the past, a lot of times, the (commissioners’) view with grant funding is we don’t have the cash on hand so we can’t really apply for it,” Petrick said. “We’re at a point in the harbor where we have to start getting creative in figuring out how to match that grant funding so we can get this money and do these repairs and we don’t wind up losing the profit centers of the harbor. It’s kind of a vicious cycle we’ve gotten ourselves into.”