Harbor commissioners will discuss future development at the port today, weighing in on a draft strategic plan and hearing more about a new nationwide tax initiative that could benefit the harbor.

Arden Shank, who served on the National Reinvestment Coalition Board in Washington D.C. alongside Harbormaster Charlie Helms, will give a presentation about the new Opportunity Funds tax initiative. Opportunity Zones were established under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed Dec. 22, 2017, and is designed to encourage long-term investment in low-income urban and rural communities.

Shank has been on the Federal Reserve Citizens Advisory Board and other citizens advisory boards for a number of banks, Helms said Monday.

“He speaks Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC and all of those,” Helms said.

According to Helms, Shank has been speaking with representatives of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition about the harbor’s development projects.

“We’re trying to find people to create an attractive package for investors and get some serious interest and hammer out some parameters and then bring it to the commission,” Helms said, “if we think it’s the right vehicle for funding one or more of these projects.”

Potential long term projects at the harbor include developing a vertical tsunami evacuation center, tent camping and a 60-room inn. These projects are also addressed in the harbor’s 5-year strategic plan, which will be presented to the commission today.

The Crescent City Harbor District kicked off development for its five-year strategic plan June 27 with a community workshop and launched a community survey asking people how often they visit the harbor, if they feel they know enough about it and what its best features are.

In June, Susan Brown of Rural Approaches.com, who has been facilitating the strategic planning meetings, told the Triplicate she expected to have a draft for harbor commissioners to adopt in September. Barring any major revisions, the board could officially adopt the plan next month, Brown told the Triplicate.

According to the draft strategic plan, during the community workshop, people felt the harbor’s visibility, easy access, new marina, its status as a working port and its retail businesses and restaurants were strengths. People also saw potential opportunities in tourism, dock fishing and fisherman services, the Friends of the Harbor nonprofit and the planned vertical tsunami evacuation center and museum. Other opportunities mentioned included the potential for aquaculture use, an outboard motor shop and “beat the heat” events, according to the plan.

During the community workshop, the public saw the harbor’s finances, the fact that there’s no local fish processing, lack of monthly events and family events as weaknesses.

As for threats, people listed the weather, Last Chance Grade, the harbor’s finances and complacency, according to the draft strategic plan.

“The members of the public were overwhelmingly concerned with the financial stability of the harbor and (its) ability to take on more projects and programs without more staffing and stable finances,” the draft strategic plan states. “Many mentions were made concerning the marketing of the harbor and sponsoring more events to attract more visitors.”

Harbor commissioners also saw the port’s retail businesses, inner boat basin, easy access and tourism as an asset to the harbor, according to the draft strategic plan.

As for potential opportunities, port commissioners mentioned developing tourism and recreational activities, building partnerships with other organizations for educational opportunities and marketing and using the facility’s undeveloped land.

Port commissioners saw growth in both the amount and diversity of work to be a challenge for staff, according to the strategic plan. They noted that operating equipment and buildings are aging and must be repaired. Commissioners also mentioned the harbor’s finances as a weakness, according to the strategic plan.

As for potential threats, harbor commissioners noted the port’s vulnerability to tsunami and weather, its remote location, a decline in fisheries, state and federal regulations and lesser restrictions in Oregon. The county’s economy, demographics, aging population, under-skilled workforce and a lack of local amenities to attract businesses and employees are other threats, harbor commissioners noted.

In its goals and strategies section, the plan mentioned creating a depreciation fund, capital improvement fund and a disaster fund as well as annually reviewing leases, fees and services.

The plan also mentions potential revenue brought to the harbor if voters approve Measure C in November. If successful, Measure C would increase the transient occupancy tax visitors staying at hotels and motels in the harbor pay by 2 percent. It would also establish a 2 percent transient occupancy tax for visitors staying at RV parks in the county.

Other strategies include repairing a sea wall, Whaler Island Groin and other areas in the harbor. The port also discusses using the old Englund Marine building for partnering organizations and creating visitor amenities such as trails and paths and bicycle wayside.

Other items on today’s harbor commission agenda include a discussion on the possibility of hosting a Visitors Bureau Information Center at 201 Citizens Dock Road and an update on the solar energy project.

Port commissioners will also discuss the progress of Measure C as well as the harbor’s ongoing debt situation and fundraising options.

The Crescent City Harbor Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. today at the harbor district office, 101 Citizens Dock Road, Crescent City. For more information and meeting agendas, visit www.ccharbor.com.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

21265658