THE DALLES — At the regular Port of The Dalles meeting on Wednesday, April 12, The Dalles Marina, LLC Owner and Operator Angie Macnab and several boathouse owners attested to the importance of the marina’s D finger, which burned down in the summer of 2021, and asked that the port rebuild it.
Before the boathouse owners spoke, Macnab gave her standard report on the private section of the marina, which her company manages as part of a Concessionaire Agreement with the Port. In her report, Macnab explained that they were transitioning out of winter and beginning to start projects, such as landscaping and winterizing for next year. She also said she scheduled an appointment with the fire district to do a walkthrough of the marina and check its fire safety, as there have been fires in the marina the last two summers.
Macnab noted that she expected fire safety to be helped by the new marina rules that went into effect Wednesday night, as one of the new rules includes making the marina a no smoking area.
She also said that, with the permission of Port Executive Director Andrea Klaas, she had brought the boathouse owners to the meeting to ask questions and voice their opinions on D finger. She voiced her own opinion, noting that her waitlist for boathouses is incredibly long, especially as an entire dock of space is now gone. According to Macnab, the pilings on C finger are also older than the ones that were on D finger, which made D finger important for stabilization.
In addition to Macnab, Brad and Donna Lohrey, Bill and Corliss Marsh, Andrew Williamson and Jeff Renard were also in attendance, with Brad Lohrey, Williamson and Renard opting to speak.
Lohrey explained that his boathouse is on C finger, facing to the west toward D finger. According to Lohrey, since the fire, he has felt that his boathouse experiences significantly more movement than it used to. In addition, he said he often walks the docks and has noticed another boathouse seems to have shifted over, with a bracket having been knocked off.
“I’m not an engineer,” Lohrey said, “and I would encourage the Port to at least have an engineer look at it, examine how it’s designed, but I’m thinking without that anchor to the west, everything’s moving to the east and things are starting to snap and break.”
Port of The Dalles President Greg Weast asked Macnab if maintenance had taken a look at the issue, to which she responded that she and Iron Works both have, but they are unable to put it back to the way it was due to the wind shift.
Next to speak was Williamson, who also owns a boathouse on C finger and has since before the fires. According to Williamson, there never used to be whitecaps in the marina, but there have been since D finger burned down. With these whitecaps, he said, C finger now rolls.
Williamson also referenced C finger’s older pilings that Macnab had alluded to, mentioning that the rest of the marina has circular ones that handle the movement better. He said that the marina had Iron Works forge rollers to put on the end of C finger, which has helped a bit, but the movement is still an issue.
“Now that D finger is gone, C finger takes a beating and a lot of our boathouses have become loose from the mounts,” he said. “The bolts are backing out, the nuts are backing off the mounts … It’s kind of a safety concern.”
Besides the stability that D finger provided, Williamson also mentioned the ability to add more boat slips would be beneficial for the marina.
Last to go was Renard, who serves as the airport manager at Columbia Gorge Regional Airport. As airport manager, he mentioned that he knew many pilots who were interested in the idea of an amphibious dock, where they could bring their float planes.
“I think it would be a great attraction to our area because there’s becoming a lot more amphibious aircraft here,” Renard said. “And there’s a real opportunity from an economic standpoint for The Dalles to capitalize on that.”
Following the comments, Weast explained that he has concerns about using public funds to pay for a private area, like that part of the marina.
“If we invest capital funds from the port to rebuild [D finger], who is paying for that?” he asked. “Our constituents who can’t use that part.”
Weast also said that neither fire has been settled with the insurance company yet, and though they want to rebuild D finger, they do not have the insurance money to help with that.
Klaas spoke up as well, mentioning that the original guess to the price of rebuilding D finger was somewhere between $750,000 and $800,000, though that had included making the finger slightly wider. Even if they kept them the same width, however, it would still be expensive, as they want to use concrete floats, which are custom-made. B finger, which suffered a fire in the summer of 2022, survived its fire because it was concrete, unlike D finger.
“We need to continue to look at it and work on it,” Weast said. “And hopefully, we will come up with a solution, because there’s obviously a problem.”