The Port of Shelton’s new executive director has announced three new leases and the promise of more economic growth on Port properties.
He even foresees submarines.
Bob Robinson, who was lured to the Port from the Port of Ilwaco almost three months ago, broke the news at a recent Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce forum.
The three new tenants at the Port’s Sanderson Field at the Shelton Airport include B-Plus Doors and Windows, a local company that has leased a 5,000-square-foot building in the business park; Cascade Auto Glass; and Noble Valley Farms, a company that assembles evergreen products and related items.
Robinson also told the Chamber that Port tenant Olympic Tool and Engineering owners Fred Rodie, Roland Moyneur and Gene Glodowski are going into the submarine business.
“It’s exciting,” said the Ilwaco native who has been an engineering consultant in Saudi Arabia and California. “When Jay Hupp (at the Mason County Economic Development Council) first told me, ‘Hey, they’re building submarines down there,’ I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ But they really are.”
Rodie says the 105-foot, 100-ton submarines they’re hoping to build would be either designed for the very rich as pleasure crafts or for specialized companies dealing with oil drilling on the ocean floor.
“This sub could go down 1,200 feet. We’ve got a couple of state rooms in it. It would have a three-man crew. It takes 12 people.”
Right now Olympic Tool is in the process of finding a buyer before it begins actual manufacturing.
“We’ve got some design work done. We’re making a virtual reality…sales tool. We’re finding quite a bit of interest in it.”
Who’s interested? Somebody who has at least $10.5 million to spare.
“It goes up from there,” Rodie says. “it depends on what you want, how big it is.”
Other recent developments at the Port include an updated website and a high-frequency data circuit, he said, adding that issues looming on the horizon include the future of the Shelton Yacht Club and the Mason County Fair.
The Port of Shelton leases 15 acres to the Yacht Club, Robinson said, but the Port’s expenses exceed what it rents the property for.
“I know the moorage rates are low,” he said, “but over the next three or four years we are going to negotiate a new lease. We want public access and improvements in parking. We need to enhance our public moorage facilities there and allow space for the Yacht Club.”
The Mason County Fairgrounds lease on property it occupies will expire in 14 years, Robinson observed, and by then the Port needs a plan to address some of its concerns about site, including questions about access to it.
“I have no preconceived agenda,” Robinson said. “But it’s our best view property with potential income, and it’s generating less than the market rate now.”
Mason County Commissioner Mary Jo Cady said she understands Robinson’s concerns and that initiating negotiations early would help both parties.
“We need to get on that immediately,” Cady said. “We tried to take the issue to the Port for quite a while, but we haven’t gotten anywhere. We were waiting for you.”
Robinson said the Port has plans detailing the future of its airport, stormwater system and environmental cleanup for Certified Aerospace but needs an integrated plan that takes all of the plans into account for purposes of coordination.
Plans for Sanderson Field include promoting the area for aviation-related industries that will create new skilled labor jobs, he noted, adding that the Port is seeking public comment on plans to regulate signage on its property.
“We do need to enhance our signage,” Robinson said.
By Kamilla K. McClelland, Business Examiner staff