The vessel Bear in Deer Harbor
Wednesday, Feb 15 2012 - (News Release from SJC Auditor) Derelict vessels are more than an eyesore in San Juan County: they are a risk to the environment, public health and navigation. So when San Juan County gave up its Derelict Vessel program in 2009 because of lack of funding, it was a disappointment to a lot of people. But some local advocates never gave up.
In 2010, Terry Whalen of A-1 Marine Services spoke to the County Council and to many community groups about the possibility of bringing it back. Over time, a consortium of community groups, led by the Friday Harbor Power Squadron and including Roche Harbor Resort, the San Juan Island Yacht Club, the Port of Friday Harbor, the Marine Resources Committee, Jensen Shipyard, Island Marine Center on Lopez, the Common Sense Alliance, and the Friends of the San Juans, all agreed to contribute money or services to a joint effort to support the County in managing derelict vessels. The group agreed to pay half the County’s out-of-pocket expenses to run the program. With that support, San Juan County Auditor Milene Henley led the charge at the County level, and the program was reinstated with a $10,000 budget, on the assumption that $5,000 of that would be paid by the local citizen group.
It took time to put the necessary contracts in place, but by the fall of 2011 the program was in full swing. Joanruth Baumann, who formerly managed the program as a County Public Works employee, was hired to manage it as a contractor. She jumped in with both feet and shortly had gone through the process to remove a long-term derelict from Deer Harbor. In November, six days prior to its scheduled removal, the vessel sank, and what was expected to be an upland removal became instead a re-float and destroy.
Government moves slowly. But this week, San Juan County received reimbursement for this first project under the new program. Total out-of-pocket costs for the project were $25,710.20. That amount included Baumann’s time; re-floating, removal, and demolition services; and solid waste disposal. In addition, the County gets credit for “in-kind” services, which included donated use of Cayou Quay Marina’s boat ramp, IOSA volunteers, and 24 hours’ worth of time from Deer Harbor Boatworks. With the in-kind contributions, the total base for reimbursement was $27,567.20. Of that, 90%, or $24,810.48, was reimbursed by DNR. Net County out-of-pocket expenditures were $899.72, and half of that will be reimbursed to the County by the citizen group. Net cost to the County for managing this critical derelict vessel project: less than $450.
It doesn’t stop there, of course. Since that project, Baumann has managed four other projects, and assisted DNR with managing two other vessels too large for the County to handle. One vessel was removed and destroyed, largely at the cost of the owner. One is close to disposal. Two others—one re-floated after sinking—are currently posted and pending removal.
This is a great example of citizens working with the County and the State to promote and support a valuable community program.