By Janine Unsoeld
The Port of Olympia citizen's advisory committee will be missing one member when it meets on Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 p.m. in Tumwater. Port advisory committee member Patricia Pyle unexpectedly passed away on February 21.
Pyle’s passing will be missed by community members in many ways. She was in active communications with Little Hollywood about several issues important to her, including her role as a new member of the Port’s citizen advisory committee.
Pyle was a City of Olympia senior program specialist in the Storm and Surface Water Utility section and helped edit the StreamTeam newsletter. She was a founding member of the South Sound Estuary Association and the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystem Preservation, and also a member of the Native Plant Salvage Foundation, the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), and other organizations.
Her interests in being on the port’s citizen advisory committee were many.
In her application for the Port position, Pyle wrote that she wanted the Port to be a leader on emergency preparedness, security, health and safety, and environmental management. As a City of Olympia employee, she had given presentations on her knowledge of the historic shoreline.
“The Port of Olympia is an important economic driver of our community…The hard decisions that are made by Port officials to either “ship” or “not ship” (military equipment and fracking materials) will always have an opposing side. In these situations, it’s important to have absolute transparency about the decision making process and involve the community in the decision, such as through the Port Advisory Committee….”
For directions to the next Port citizen advisory committee meeting at 7241 Cleanwater Drive, Tumwater, go to www.portolympia.com.
Committee Questions Answered
It took the Port of Olympia from February 19 to March 12, 15 working days, to provide answers to Little Hollywood’s three questions about the Port of Olympia's citizen advisory committee (POCAC). On March 12, Port staff member Jeri Sevier responded.
Little Hollywood: How are the tasks for the POCAC created and assigned to the Port's citizen advisory committee? It was clear last night (February 17) that they had to accept the tasks, although they clearly had no enthusiasm to revisit the one about the naming protocols. It seemed to me that the process is backwards - the tasks should originate from the committee. Ken Adney told me that the committee, indeed, created a list with about 20 suggested tasks that they were interested in. Where is that list, and why are they not allowed to choose and explore their own topics?
Port of Olympia: The tasks are created and assigned from the Commission to the POCAC - the POCAC is appointed by the Commission and reports directly to the Commission. In the past the Committee has had a list of items they've shared with the Commission to consider when assigning tasks - see attached list, however the tasks have always been assigned by the Commissioners therefore the Committee does not come up with their own work plan.
Little Hollywood: If the public wanted to contribute ideas on a Port vision statement, or provide input on any other task given to the committee, what would be the best way for them to do that?
Port of Olympia: All of the Commission and POCAC meetings are open to the public so any citizens are welcome to observe and provide comments to the Commission or POCAC during public comment period on the agenda. Any citizen can also send an inquiry to the Port's inquiry email: firstname.lastname@example.org which will be passed along to the appropriate Port Staff or Commissioner for a response or they may send an email directly to the person they wish to communicate with.
The last meeting minutes for the POCAC that I can find on the website is July 15, 2014. Was that the last meeting of 2014? Was last night's meeting the first one of the year with new members? How often do joint commissioner-POCAC meetings happen?
The last POCAC meeting in 2014 was August 19 which are now uploaded on the website. The POCAC and Commission typically have two joint meetings each year, one is usually held at the beginning of the year to assign tasks and the other is usually in the fall when the POCAC is usually wrapping up the tasks reporting back to the Commission. The January 20, 2015 meeting was the first joint meeting with the newly appointed POCAC members. Joint Commission/POCAC meeting minutes are officially Commission meeting minutes and therefore listed on our website under Commission Minutes.
Recommendations for Future POCAC Assignments
Below is a list compiled on September 7, 2014 of citizen advisory committee recommendations for work:
1. Sea Level Rise
2. Earthquake Risks
3. Military Shipments
4. Use POCAC volunteers as meeting observers or for other individual assignments relating to public issues (like the Strategic Plan Update in progress)
5. North Point
6. Passenger Ferry Berth
7. Sustainability (proposed by Frank Gorecki Jan 2012)
8. Renewable Energy Opportunities (proposed by Commissioner Davis 11-16-11)
9. Live-a-boards in Swantown Marina (proposed by Commissioner Barner 9-18-12)
10. Potential uses of SW Airport area outside fence, including off-leash dog parks (proposed by Commissioner Barner 9-18-12)
11. Fuel Dock Merits (proposed by Commissioner Barner and Bill Garson 9-18-12)
12. Collaboration with educational institutions on workforce development (proposed by Commissioner Barner 9-18-12)
13. Improving public understanding of Port (proposed by Commissioner McGregor 9-18-12)
14. Inventory potential facilities in Thurston County available for use in Foreign Trade Zone 216 (proposed by Clydia Cuykendall 9-18-12)
15. Impacts from Panama Canal widening and other Port strengths/weaknesses (proposed by Jim Olson 10-16-12)
Little Hollywood notes that for the January and February 2015 meetings of the port’s citizen advisory committee, there was no formal opportunity listed on the agenda for the public to speak. Janine Unsoeld did speak to the group at length in February when introduced to the committee by Commissioner George Barner.
The meeting agenda for March 17 does list a formal opportunity for public comment. The agenda does not mention a process for replacing Patricia Pyle on the committee unless it is scheduled to be covered under “Other Business.”
Four work topics for 2015 were provided to the citizen advisory committee at their February 17 meeting: transparency, naming protocols for Port owned facilities, vision statement, and a committee self-evaluation. For the February 22 story about that meeting, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com.
For more articles related to the Port of Olympia, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com.