Port approves take over of Friends Landing

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Sterlings Landing outside Montesano
A table to clean fish at Friend’s Landing.

The Port of Grays Harbor has agreed to take over Friends Landing and neighboring Sterlings Landing, both located outside of Montesano.

The recreational spots had been run by the Friends Landing non-profit for years, but the volunteers spearheaded by Realtor Chuck Caldwell of Montesano have dwindled in recent years and popular events like an annual summer jamboree that lasted for more than 15 years had been discontinued.

Caldwell, also a port commissioner, said that he had approached the county and other groups to potentially take it over but couldn’t find any takers.

He said he had some interest from at least one organization in buying the sites, but he wanted to preserve the public access and fishing access for everybody.

Port Commissioner Stan Pinnick asked the Port to look into whether it would fit into the Port’s assets in April.

On Monday, Satsop Business Manager Alissa Shay recommended that the Port take over the facilities.

And, with the votes of Port Commissioners Jack Thompson and Pinnick, the Port voted to acquire the facilities.

Caldwell abstained from the vote because of the obvious conflict of interest.

The non-profit group led by Caldwell is giving the property to the Port. The next step is for the Port to update its comprehensive plan to include the property, which will be done in July, and for Port Executive Director Gary Nelson to proceed with the acquisition documents.

The Friends Landing site includes 152 acres of recreational property including a 32-acre man-made lake and the Sterlings Landing site consist of 30 acres off Devonshire Road along the Wynooche River.

“I’d like to thank Commissioner Caldwell and the folks at Friends Landing for what they’ve put together over the years and the access for the handicapped and the community,” Pinnick said.

“Absolutely,” added Thompson.

Shay’s report to Port administrators and the Port commissioners noted that the annual cost to the Port could be about $15,000.

She looked at the water and sewer system operations at the Friends facility and said, “Initial research indicates that the systems are managed properly and could benefit from being managed by an entity with expertise in this area. Future upgrades are unknown at this time. However, the system is relatively new so replacement of aging infrastructure is not expected.”

Shay said that the Port may have to acquire an aquatics lease from the state Department of Natural Resources for the Sterlings Landing property.

And, she said that an easement from a gravel road owned by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife may need to be arranged to guarantee access to the Sterlings Landing property.

Shay said there is also no concern about the duties and staffing needs of Friends Landing, which has one caretaker on site.

“At the conclusion of our research, we believe that acquisition and management of these properties fits well with the Port’s mission statement and with the commissioners’ vision to provide waterfront public access opportunities,” Shay wrote in her report.

Access Sterling Landing via the gravel road at the base of the Devonshire Bridge outside of Montesano.

Access Friends Landing at 300 Katon Road, Montesano.