Coastal Voices: The cost of not using Kelly

By Samuel Strait June 08, 2011 05:56 pm

In response to Rick Toreson’s June 2 letter, “Harbor Commission failed in hiring attorney Fred Kelly,” Mr. Toreson must be jumping for joy to learn that Mr. Kelly will not be accepting employment from either the harbor or the airport commissioners.

While Mr Toreson and the staffs at both the harbor and the airport may see this as a victory of sorts and a possible saving to both commissions of $10,000 or more, they may wish to reserve their joy until both projects are completed and the actual costs to the community are fully tallied.

This is not to say that both Harbormaster Richard Young and Airport Manager Jim Bernard and their respective staffs are not capable of seeing to the remaking of the harbor and the airport all the way to their completions. What is of major concern is the length of time it very likely is going to entail and the added losses that the county as a whole will sustain while both projects are completed.

Keep in mind that the harbor has made little progress toward the physical replacement of the damage sustained in 2006 and the new airport terminal was scheduled to open this year. In both cases the same players that are not open Mr. Kelly's assistance were in place during this entire time.

Mr. Toreson points to the fact that state and federal representatives are all on board and government agencies are poised to push these projects forward. Yet recent meetings of both commissions and reportage in the newspaper seem to imply otherwise. Nearly every report by both staffs seem to be consistently prefaced by the words, “We are waiting for ...”

The harbor dredging is scheduled for October only if the proper permitting process goes without any issues. Then there is the transportation and installation of temporary moorings, and on and on.

There doesn’t appear to be any firm date for a new terminal or progress toward expanded landing strips. It is crystal clear to all parties involved that both the harbor and the airport projects are very important to the entire county. Any delay, no matter how small, affects revenue to both the airport and the harbor, and in a very large way the economy of the whole area.

In addition, as time passes the costs of both projects will, because of basic inflation and new regulations, increase as well.

The questions Mr. Toreson, Mr. Young, and Mr. Bernard should be asking themselves is, how long are we going to have to wait to complete these projects?

More importantly, how many commercial fishing seasons, crab seasons and summer tourist seasons are going to be lost with this go-it-alone attitude? Will these losses be less than the $20,000 to $30,000 to be paid for Mr. Kelly's services?

The people in this county are going to be wondering as well. It certainly appears that this community is poised to suffer further disappointment at the hands of, not the Harbor Commission for its decision, but from the unelected staff at the harbor and the airport as well. I think that those decisions are going to be a much more expensive mistake.

Samuel Strait is a Crescent City resident.