Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, May 13 @ 4:17 p.m. / Infrastructure, Local Government

Harbor District Pursues Maritime Administration Grant Dollars For Citizens Dock Rebuild

The Crescent City Harbor is pursuing federal dollars to rebuild Citizens Dock. | File photo: Andrew Goff


Crescent City Harbor Seeks Public Comment on Citizens Dock Rebuild


As engineers continue to work on a rebuild of Citizens Dock, the Crescent City Harbor District is pursuing $8 million to $9 million in federal Port Infrastructure Development Program grant dollars.

Harbor commissioners last week voted 4-1 to commit up to $2 million, or 20 percent, to the 70-year-old dock’s reconstruction. Commissioner Brian Stone dissented, questioning if the Harbor District could afford to make that commitment.

“Within the next 10 months we most likely will not have enough funds,” he said. “And I’m gravely concerned that if we don’t find some way to bail our butts out from the decisions that have been made by this board, we will go under.”

The Harbor District submitted its application on Friday and expected to be notified if it was successful in September, according to Mike Bahr, CEO and grants manager of Community Systems Solutions.

This is the second time the harbor has pursued dollars through the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration program, Bahr said. In 2022, the Harbor District received $7.36 million toward a seawall replacement project.

According to Bahr, PIDP dollars would go toward the first phase of Citizens Dock’s reconstruction. This would involve moving the infrastructure that currently serves the commercial fishing fleet to a new dock so the existing one can be rebuilt, according to Bahr’s staff report.

To be eligible for the grant, the Harbor District would need to contribute a minimum of 20 percent toward the project cost. However, according to Bahr’s staff report, under MARAD’s “small project at a small port” definition — which is a project at a small port seeking less than or equal to $11.25 million — the Crescent City Harbor District’s required match could be reduced to $1 million.

MARAD defines a small port as one who received an average of less than 8 million short tons of cargo for the three calendar years before submitting a PIDP grant application, according to its 2023 PIDP Notice of Funding Opportunity.

The first phase of the Citizens Dock rebuild is estimated to cost $10 million, according to Bahr’s staff report. A partial design from Moffat & Nichol was included in the Harbor commission’s May 8 staff report. According to Bahr, that is the 15 percent design for the preferred alternative out of six that have been considered.

“Next step is the 30 percent design, which will include geotechnical studies, which will help determine where the piers go,” Bahr told the Wild Rivers Outpost via email Monday. “The 30 percent design will go to Harbor District Board hearings and public hearings and environmental agencies so there could be modifications at that time.”

Prepared for the Harbor District by Moffat & Nichol, this is the "preferred alternative" out of six for Citizens Dock. However, the design is only about 15 percent finished. | Courtesy of the Crescent City Harbor District

Phase 2 of the project is the rebuild of the existing dock. Bahr said the Harbor District would pursue further grant dollars for that part of the project.

The Crescent City Harbor District is only committed to providing up to $2 million contribution toward the cost of the project’s first phase if it wins a PIDP grant and accepts it, Harbormaster Tim Petrick told commissioners last week. This could take another year. It may also take three years to actually start construction on the dock replacement project, according to Petrick.

Coastal Conservancy dollars and California State Lands Commission dollars could be used as a match for the PIDP grant, Petrick said.

“Most of our match on the current PIDP [project] was covered by other grants,” he told commissioners. “And what was left of that was covered by in-kind for the most part. There will be very little, if anything, out of pocket on the current PIDP. That would be the model that we would strive to use for the next [PIDP project] as well.”

Stone, however, said he didn’t think the Harbor District could absorb another financial commitment. He argued that a settlement agreement with Stover Engineering and Wayne Maples Plumbing and Heating — the final two defendants in a lawsuit that originated with the rebuild of the Harbor District’s inner boat basin after the 2011 tsunami — “is the only thing keeping us open.”

The $1.4 million settlement agreement ends a nearly seven-year lawsuit against the Dutra Group, the general contractor for the inner boat basin project, and seven of its subcontractors, Petrick told the Outpost last month. The Harbor District announced it had won the settlement agreement on April 2.

Last week, Harbor District Comptroller Thomas Zickgraf told commissioners that the district had received more than $1.5 million from the Stover and Wayne Maples settlement.

An additional $155,000 from the Wayne Maples settlement is due to the Harbor District within the next 60 days, Petrick said.
Zickgraf also said the Harbor District had received its property tax allocation, “which brought us back to full liquidity.”

Stone said that $155,000 payment notice hadn’t come before the Board of Commissioners — that he was told after the fact. He brought up the possibility of Wayne Maples owners filing for bankruptcy, formally initiating a new corporation, transferring everything over to the new corporation, including all of their assets and “bingo, we’re out the remaining $185-grand.”

“I’m just afraid that we’re going to be hung out to dry again and I’m really worried about it,” Stone said. “That to try to recover the money will cost us more in attorneys' fees than what it would be worth.”

On Monday, Petrick said the Harbor District’s bank balances were low last month because of the Fashion Blacksmith settlement, which requires the port to pay $2.6 million plus interest over 10 years. The harbor was also awaiting its second secured property taxes allocation in mid April, Petrick said.

“The lawsuit settlements were not received until late April and were only settled because they were the best legal and business decisions based upon the insurance coverage of the parties and their ability to pay coupled with the cost of taking the case to trial,” he said, pointing out that the Dutra lawsuit began before he started working at the Crescent City Harbor District.

Petrick and Commissioner Rick Shepherd argued that Citizens Dock is failing and if the Harbor District doesn’t pursue PIDP dollars, “we will not have a harbor.”

“I said when I ran eight years ago that Citizens Dock is going to fail,” Shepherd said. “It’s close to failing and without that, I don’t know what we do.”

As for the previous $7.36 million PIDP grant, the seawall it is expected to replace is adjacent to and older than Citizens Dock. Last week, Bahr said the Harbor District hasn’t begun spending those dollars because it has to “spend some of the match first, which is the Coastal Conservancy grant.”

Bathymetric studies for the project are currently underway and geotechnical studies will be starting soon to figure out where the seawall is going to go, Bahr told commissioners.


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