Tale of two harbors

May 22, 2001 12:00 am
Russ Crabtree, executive director of Brookings Harbor, said harbors must have a master plan and work voraciously at it if they expect to stay on track toward a prosperous future. (The Daily Triplicate /Stephen Merrill Corley).
Russ Crabtree, executive director of Brookings Harbor, said harbors must have a master plan and work voraciously at it if they expect to stay on track toward a prosperous future. (The Daily Triplicate /Stephen Merrill Corley).

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

One harbor plans to offer its tenants high-speed Internet access, the other struggles to find water hookups. One harbor has plans for a 130-unit hotel, the other recently put in condominiums for stray cats.

These are some of the comparisons between the harbors of Crescent City and Brookings. They are sister harbors in different states. One is prospering, the other floundering.

Rich Taylor, CEO of Crescent Citys Harbor District, said the reasons Crescent Citys harbor has fallen on hard times are many and varied.

Your plans have to fit where your money is coming from, Taylor said.

He said there are many reasons for the discrepancies today, including different funding opportunities and well-known disagreements that haunted the board of commissioners in the past.

But executive director of Brookings harbor, Russ Crabtree, said theres no reason why Crescent Citys harbor cant be prosperous.

We really dont have the funds either, said Crabtree. They (Crescent City) have the same access to federal funding that we have.

Brookings harbor, however, does have a lobbyist in Oregons capital, Salem, at least twice a month, he added.

Taylor said in some cases California agencies present financial and bureaucratic hurdles to overcome which Oregon does not, but admitted Crescent Citys focus has been more with cleanup and dredging lately.

Theyve built that area with timber and EDA (Economic Development Administration) money, said Taylor. We got EDA money before Brookings did - for Fashion Blacksmith, two fish plants and the inner boat basin - plus there were state matching funds.

One debate from last years election focused on the facilities available for sport fishermen.

Crescent Citys fish-cleaning station is an outside affair, where anglers clean their catch in the elements. Brookings has built an enclosed fish-cleaning station, protected from foul weather and pesky seagulls, complete with an ice station next door.

Another discouragement for gulls, and the mess they can leave behind, are pointed fixtures on top of pilings throughout the harbor. We used to have nails sticking out on top of them, but it was deemed inhumane to do that to the gulls, said Crabtree.

The effectiveness of Brookings efforts at cleanliness is apparent everywhere. The lawns are manicured and the tenants are happy.

Personally, we are extremely happy with the harbor, said Debbie Crisp. She and husband Don are the new owners of Dick & Caseys Seafood. The port loaned us money to get started here and it took less than two months. They bent over backwards to help us out.

Other happy land-based tenants are Jim and Karen Barrett of the Espresso Gallery.

Its great here, said Karen Barrett. They are very reasonable with the rent. They help you out during the wintertime and are willing to work with you.

Barrett said her shop gets more money from tourism than from sport fishermen.

We get people in here from all over. People from Sweden, China, all over the world, she said. The port is an attraction. They drive in here to see whats happening - they look for these kinds of shops.

Craig Bradford, executive director of Del Norte Countys Economic Development Center, said such an outlook for Crescent Citys harbor is in the cards but it takes time.

The harbor is in good hands I am a huge supporter of Rich (Taylor), he said. I fully support the vision of a master-planned harbor and we really do have a rough-cut diamond thats ready to be polished.

Bradford said the transformation of Brookings port was a 6-year project that was in many ways inspired by Taylor. Crabtree agreed.

Rich showed me the ropes some 13 years ago when we were the diamond in the rough, Crabtree said.

Crabtree credits much of his success to dogged determination and respect.

The major resource of this port is the people, he said. And you need to have a master plan and pursue it. You have to approach it with voracity if you are ever going to achieve it.