Port sets new meeting schedule

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An effort to coordinate with local city officials has prompted Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners to rethink their bi-weekly meeting dates.

Port Commissioner Larry Keister realized he and the two other local port leaders might need to revamp their meeting schedule during a drive back from the Washington Public Ports Association’s annual meeting in Tacoma in late November.

“I realized that with the North Shore meeting (going on that night), the city of Camas didn’t have any idea what the Port’s intention with the (Grove Field) airport was,” Keister explained. “Without knowing what the Port was doing, it was hard for them to know about their development. The Port had already decided that it’s not going to increase the length of the runway. We’re just going to maintain Grove Field as it is and look for airport-related retail development, but do nothing that would affect the growth of Camas. We knew that, but we forgot to tell them.”

With Port Commission meetings held the first and third Monday of the month — the same days as Camas City Council meetings — Port commissioners haven’t been able to attend city of Camas meetings and feel they’re missing out on some critical opportunities to coordinate with Camas officials.

“We decided we need representation at both cities’ meetings,” said Keister, a regular attendee of the city of Washougal’s gatherings, which are held the second and fourth Monday of every month. “It’s so critical.”

On Dec. 16, the Port commissioners voted to change the day of their meetings from the first and third Monday of each month to the first and third Wednesday of the month. The change will take effect for the commissioners’ second meeting of 2020, to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

“I think it’s great,” said David Ripp, the Port’s chief executive officer, of the shift to Wednesday. “It’s showing that we’re involved, we want to be informed, and we’re engaged in seeing what’s going on with our other partners. Our airport is not yet in the urban growth boundary, but eventually it will be, and we want to get it annexed into the city of Camas, so having that good relationship and partnership with the City will make that a lot easier to do.”

At the Dec. 16 meeting, the commissioners voted to appoint Keister as the Port’s representative to the city of Washougal and newly elected Port Commissioner Cassi Marshall as the Port’s representative to the city of Camas.

“This is really important,” Keister said. “What we do affects Washougal and what Washougal does affects us. Like the (waterfront) development – we want to complement downtown Washougal. We will continue to keep that in mind.”

The Port commissioners have met on Mondays for the past year. Before that, they met on Tuesdays. Keister’s appointment as a representative to the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, which meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month, necessitated the switch to Monday.

“We moved it to Monday. We tried it out. But then we realized we didn’t have the connections to the city of Camas that we feel are so important,” Keister said. “We work with them on projects. Just us attending meetings shows that we’re involved. We have to work together. I think (our relationships with the two cities is) even stronger now because we realize how much we rely on each other.”