Harbor commissioners on Tuesday received an estimate on the potential costs of preparing the old Englund Marine building for use as a visitors center.
Such preparations include bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by extending the sewer line for new restrooms, installing new ramps and parking as well as double doors. According to a cost estimate from George Mayer, owner of GR Construction of Crescent City, remodeling the building at 201 Citizens Dock Road would cost $102,160.
This cost estimate doesn’t include installing an ADA compliant restroom or installing asphalt at the rear of the building for parking, according to Deputy Harbormaster Lane Tavasci. The harbor would also have to bring the structure into compliance with Del Norte County building codes, according to the staff report.
“We have a single bathroom that’s not ADA compliant at all,” Tavasci said, adding that a rough drawing of the proposed remodel includes a drive-through coffee kiosk, a central desk for the visitors bureau and space for two gift shops.
Tavasci and Harbormaster Charlie Helms have also proposed building a trailer with ADA-compliant restrooms rather than remodeling the building’s existing restroom. The trailer they viewed cost about $25,000, according to Tavasci.
“We’ll have to tear out all that and restructure it to make it ADA compliant,” he said of the building’s existing restroom.
Commissioners with the Crescent City Harbor District have discussed the possibility of offering the old Englund Marine building to the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, Redwood State and National Parks and other agencies that may want to use it as a hub of information for visitors since September.
On Tuesday, the proposal was part of a strategic plan that focused on signage at the port, both compatibility with the harbor’s overall theme and the existence of “clutter signs” near U.S. 101. The strategic plan also addressed partnering with local nonprofits to encourage them to use the harbor as a venue for events as well as developing a map of the port for visitors.
Harbor staff member Traci Fansler proposed establishing a scavenger hunt for families to find their way around the harbor and seek out some of its more unique features. Those who completed the scavenger hunt would receive a pirate-themed certificate and a sticker, she said.
“The idea is just to make it fun,” Fansler said. “People always say what’s in the harbor and what can we go look at and this way it’s very simple.”
During discussion about the Old Englund Marine building, Tavasci answered in the affirmative when Commissioner Wes White asked if the cost would be $130,000-$150,000 to finish renovating the building. Tavasci said bringing the building into compliance with federal and state requirements is a stipulation of the harbor’s loan agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When the port first took the building over in 2016, Mayer quoted the harbor $150,000 to tear the structure down to the slates and $120,000 to rebuild it in the same style, Tavasci said.
White, who had initially informed the board about the potential of the chamber relocating to the harbor, said the commission should table the discussion until they know who the tenant will be. He noted getting an answer from the national park on whether they would be interested in operating a visitor center at the harbor wouldn’t happen until the federal government reopens.
“To me, all this is speculative until we get a tenant,” White said.
During discussion about the possibility of working with or encouraging local nonprofits to use the harbor as a venue for their events, Jim Ramsey, president of the harbor board also addressed the port’s Pirate Festival. After dealing with rain last year, the Pirate Festival will be held May 25, the Saturday before Memorial Day, he said.
Meanwhile, Helms suggested the harbor get in touch with the Del Norte Nonprofit Alliance, which is affiliated with the Wild Rivers Community Foundation and seeks to further more collaboration with the more than 180 organizations in the county.
Helms also noted the harbor’s fee schedule has charges for commercial organizations wanting to hold events at the port but the harbor commission could waive the fees for a nonprofit. Helms said the fee schedule could also be expanded to include events near Whaler Island.