Even though the idea is preliminary, harbor commissioners on Tuesday backed a tentative plan to open a visitors information center at 201 Citizens Dock Road.
Wes White, who is the Crescent City Harbor District’s representative on the Del Norte County visitors bureau, said the idea of the old Englund Marine building being used for an information center for tourists came from Del Norte County Supervisor Lori Cowan. White said, he thought other agencies might be interested in taking part in a potential visitors center at the harbor if the visitors bureau and the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce decide to relocate there.
“The different sovereign nations might be interested,” he said. “The Redwood (Parks) Conservancy, which is the information center for Redwood National and State Parks, maybe even the forest service. I think there’s the potential to have that whole building become an interagency visitors center like we had envisioned before.”
White referred to a proposed multi-agency visitors center that would have housed 14 public agencies including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Redwood National and State Parks and local tribes.
Even though the harbor’s discussion wasn’t specific to the visitors bureau or the Chamber of Commerce relocating to the 4,300 square-foot building, chamber representatives are interested in moving into the facility, said chamber Executive Director Sarah Caron. But, she said she was hesitant to say too much because “everything has to be approved.”
Caron said she recently toured the building with Cowan, Harbormaster Charlie Helms and Deputy Harbormaster Lane Tavasci.
“The possibility of being in the harbor offers us incredible accessibility to our visitors and parking,” she said. “It offers visibility from 101 and it would increase tourism for the harbor exponentially.”
Even though nothing is solid, Caron said relocating the visitors bureau and chamber to the old Englund Marine building would be a collaborative effort between the harbor, the city and the county. She noted that other interagency visitors centers had been in the works for years, but never came to fruition.
Caron said there would have to be “buy-in” from the three agencies. Currently, the city donates use of the Crescent City Cultural Center and electricity to the chamber as part of its contribution. Caron said she’s been trying to work with multiple agencies to find the funding to help fix up the old Englund Marine building.
“It’s definitely been something that’s going to take a lot of agencies and a lot of people, the entire community, working together to be able to pull this off,” she said. “And it’s a really exciting thought of being able to have an accessible visible collaborative venture that brings an entire community together.”
On Tuesday, Helms told harbor commissioners that upgrades to the building’s floors and interior would need to be made, but the structure has a brand new roof and weather-tight facade. The only thing it doesn’t have, he said, are ADA-accessible bathrooms.
“We were looking at getting a facility, Royal Restrooms, it’s an all-weather trailer that’s ADA accessible,” Helms said. “They’re gorgeous. We could set it up outside and tap right into the sewer and it would be less money.”
Helms said if the harbor were to rent the building, it could make $1,000 a month. But the harbor would also give a new business six to eight months to pay their rent and would credit any improvements they made to the building back to them.
“It’d be a long time before we saw anything,” he said. “This would be a lot faster turnaround here.”
White noted that attracting more tourists to the harbor is part of its strategic plan.
“I think Lori captured that,” he said. “That would bring more visitors.”
According to Caron, the visitors bureau is currently working with Bend, Oregon-based Vertigo Marketing to re-brand the area.
“We are on what’s looking like one of our final rounds of logo design and we’re gearing up to send this out to a group of stakeholders in our community and get their input on it,” she said. “It’s really exciting to involve the community in this process as well.”
The visitors bureau is also working with Vertigo Marketing to create a new website promoting the region, according to Caron.