Port reorganization eliminates planning and development director position

Funding will go to Economic Development Association

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Planning and Development Director Scot Walstra will depart from the Port of Camas-Washougal this week as his term of employment comes to a close, and the port focusses on future economic development efforts.

Walstra was hired by the port in June 2007. This year, he has earned $82,162 in salary, plus benefits.

Port Executive Director Dave Ripp said Walstra’s departure was partially a budgetary decision, as the port is partnering with the cities of Camas and Washougal to form a local Economic Development Association.

“The port commission, along with mayors and councils of Camas and Washougal, are working to see that a strong, sustainable economic vision becomes a reality for this area,” Ripp said. “This new Economic Development Council will continue to work regionally with the Columbia River Economic Development Council. In order to commit an adequate funding level for this new EDC, the port commissioners made a decision to change the port’s organizational structure. This reorganization effort will eliminate Scot’s position.

“Basically, there would be a duplication of duties from Scot and the new local EDC,” he added.

The port’s 2011 budget includes $100,000 for the C-W Economic Development Association.

Ripp said Walstra has a wide range of communication and infrastructure skills, along with an interest in aviation.

“He has a great work ethic and is very dependable,” Ripp said. “I counted on him. If I needed something, he was the first one to say ‘I can handle that.’ No task was too big for him.”

When Walstra was hired, his responsibilities were listed to include planning and developing long and short-term land-use strategies and analyzing economic development impacts to meet the port’s business objectives. His position also involved marketing available port industrial property and building space, as well as managing the RiverWalk feasibility study. A previous option agreement for a $350 million RiverWalk on the Columbia waterfront development, which could have extended from the Parkersville historic site upriver to the vacant property east of Hambleton Lumber, expired Nov. 2, 2007.

Ripp said Walstra has been helpful with the port’s strategic planning process, the master planning of the Steigerwald Commerce Center and the environmental assessment of Grove Field Airport. The port’s industrial park is nearly 90 percent occupied.

Before he was hired by the port, Walstra worked 26 years for NW Natural. His titles included director of business development for the Clark County district, industrial/commercial segment manager, new construction segment manager and residential energy consultant. That included extending gas mains and gas service to a variety of commercial, industrial and manufacturing tenants on port property.

In addition to previously being involved in business development consulting and local and regional legislative issues, Walstra had been active with the Columbia River Crossing Task Force, Clark County Economic Development Investment Fund, Southwest Washington Contractors Association and The Responsible Growth Forum.

Walstra was not available for comment prior to press deadlines.

Meanwhile, the C-W Economic Development Association will meet Monday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m., at the port office meeting room, 24 S. “A” St., Washougal. Requests for qualifications from individual consultants and firms to market Camas, Washougal and the port will be advertised in mid-January and finalized in March, according to Ripp.