Community Hot Topics

Community Hot Topics

Welcome to the Community Hot Topics section of the Port of Olympia’s website, where we aim to keep you informed about the issues that matter most to our community. Here, you’ll find timely updates and accurate information on a range of topics that are of interest to residents and stakeholders alike. Whether it’s updates on environmental initiatives, port development projects, or community outreach efforts, we strive to provide the best sources of information available. Stay connected with us as we work together towards a sustainable and thriving future for Olympia and its surrounding areas.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

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Airport

No. The Davis Meeker tree is located outside of the Runway 17-35 Protection Zone and doesn’t play a part in any future airport plans. Removing the tree would therefore not have any effect on the procedural requirements of those approaches. Whether the tree ultimately remains or is removed will have no bearing on airport operations.

Considering the current request for proposal to replace the roof of the neighboring historic Washington State Patrol hangar, the Port has a singular concern: potential damage to the hangar in the event of a tree failure towards the airport. Such an incident could result in significant harm to the registered historic structure, impacting law enforcement’s capacity to effectively serve the Thurston County community.

For information about The Davis Meeker tree, please visit the City of Tumwater here. Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree FAQs | City of Tumwater, WAFurther inquiries regarding the Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree can be directed to the City of Tumwater. The city’s official platform offers a dedicated resource outlining frequently asked questions concerning this topic. For additional information, please refer to the provided link. Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree FAQs | City of Tumwater, WA

There are no initiatives or plans to expand the footprint of the Olympia Regional Airport. In fact, a review has identified the necessity to reduce the dimensions of one of the runways, specifically the crosswind runway. This assessment indicates that the current dimensions exceed the operational requirements for the size of aircraft utilizing it. Preliminary estimations suggest a reduction in length to approximately 3,500 feet, a decrease from the existing 4,500 feet.

The Port of Olympia has facilitated a comprehensive discussion regarding airport plans, which is accessible for public viewing on YouTube. Within the discourse, pertinent dialogue addressing the nuanced understanding of the term “expansion” is located approximately at the 2-hour and 10-minute mark.

Commission

Each port in Washington state is governed by its own commission, which acts as a board of directors for the port. The commission is elected by citizens in the port district and may consist of three or five commissioners.

The Port of Olympia is a municipal corporation governed by five elected commissioners who set policies and objectives. Each commissioner represents a district within Thurston county and serves a 2-year or 4-year term. The commissioners appoint the Port’s executive director, who is responsible for the ongoing management of the Port’s enterprises and facilities.

Alex Smith is the Port of Olympia’s Executive Director. Read her bio here.

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Destination Waterfront

We are committed to environmental stewardship and responsibility. Environmental permitting and remediation of legacy contaminants are critical and integral steps in any development of our properties on the Port Peninsula.  

As we evaluate, plan and design any development, we work closely with environmental engineers, civil engineers, structural engineers, state and local regulators and professionals with expertise developing contaminated waterfront properties. All projects must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  Both require a thorough evaluation of the environmental impacts of any project. 

The Port’s goal is to do a thorough environmental evaluation in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in conjunction with the Port Peninsula Master Plan.  We will soon kick off that planning effort.   

We are committed to environmental protection, responsible management of our properties, and engaging with community members. To ensure community members are included in our work to develop a clean and vibrant waterfront, we engage our Citizen Advisory Committee. The advisory committee will act as a sounding board as we develop plans to clean up contaminants in Budd Inlet, develop plans for our waterfront properties and Marine Terminal, and our efforts to address sea level rise and coordinate with the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Project. 

There will be opportunities in 2024 and 2025 for the public to learn more about our work, engage with us as we continue cleanup Budd Inlet, and develop the Master Plan for the Port Peninsula.  

 

The Port of Olympia Advisory Committee has been very active and a vital partner in planning the upland development of the Budd Inlet East Bay. 

Much of their work began in 2018 when the advisory committee developed a report that considered leasing versus building or buying port office space. Their assessment was based on the Port being part of the community for at least 100 years. With that in mind, their report recommends buying or constructing a building for the Port offices. You can read their Office Consolidation Report on the Advisory Committee webpage. 

After that report was developed, the Port engaged in a long-term community visioning exercise, Vision 2050. Members of the Advisory Committee participated in the 14-month process to develop a community vision for the Port by 2050. 

Vision 2050 included the community’s recommendation to develop the waterfront into a place people in the region could use and enjoy more. To act on this, the Port began a public engagement process to develop a master plan for the East Bay of the Port Peninsula, which was branded Destination Waterfront. 

A robust public engagement process for Destination Waterfront included the Advisory Committee, business leaders, tourism representatives, and local governments. This master plan included land use recommendations, public amenities, open spaces, and the advisory committee’s recommendation to construct office space the Port owns.  

Today, the Port is working to follow through on the Destination Waterfront community vision by engaging an architect to develop schematic plans and construction documents that make the project shovel-ready. Once a project is considered shovel-ready, it may qualify for funding from local, federal, and private partnerships. 

You can learn more about Destination Waterfront on our website.   

Environment

We are currently evaluating the level of contamination in the sediment surrounding the Port peninsula. A team of experts recently collected over 1100 sediment samples from over 100 locations. Those samples are now being analyzed a report will be developed that will share the results. We expect to share the report in late summer. To learn more about the cleanup and restoration of Budd Inlet, please visit our webpage dedicated to the project or visit the Washington Department of Ecology’s website.

The Port of Olympia is actively working to protect the Olympia Pocket Gopher and the Streaked Horned Lark through the Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan. This plan, developed in collaboration with the City of Tumwater, aims to balance development with the long-term preservation of these endangered species. The plan includes designating and managing reserve areas to protect the habitats of these species, thereby mitigating the impacts of development and maintenance activities
 

Budd Inlet has low levels of dissolved oxygen that negatively affect fish and other marine life. Extensive, science-based investigation has been conducted to determine what is causing the low oxygen levels, also known as hypoxia.  One cause for low oxygen is when excess nitrogen enters a water body.  The nitrogen encourages plant growth and when the plants die and decompose, the process consumes oxygen.  Excess decomposition leads to hypoxic conditions.   

Capitol Lake has been identified by the Washington Department of Ecology as the largest source of oxygen-depleted water within Budd Inlet. Ecology has also said the most important action needed to reach water quality standards in Budd Inlet is the development and implementation of a long-term management solution for Capitol Lake. 

In their report, Ecology also evaluated the Port’s operations, including Swantown Marina & Boatworks and our Marine Terminal, and did not find they were the cause of low levels of dissolved oxygen. 

To see the full study, you can read the Budd Inlet Dissolved Oxygen Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water quality improvement plan that was prepared by the Department of Ecology and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

While the Port is not responsible for Capitol Lake, we are committed to the long-term health of Budd Inlet. We are working closely with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to integrate our Budd Inlet cleanup project with the Deschutes Estuary Restoration project.  

To learn more about what DES is doing to address water quality issues related to Capitol Lake, please visit the DES Deschutes Estuary Restoration Project website 

 
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Properties

Several community members have expressed concern about the future of KGY radio. KGY has been a part of the Thurston County community since 1916 and while they have occupied several locations, we feel fortunate to have leased property to them since the 1960s. The owners have now decided to move their radio station operations to a new location when their land lease with the Port ends in December of this year. 

KGY built the building after it leased the land from the Port.  The lease says that at the end of the lease term, the Port has the option of taking ownership of the building or require the tenant to remove the building and any associated improvements.  

KGY recently shared that they are concerned about the potential cost to remove the building, should the Port choose to require them to remove it. We are also not sure about the structural integrity of the building and the pier it sits on.   

We are currently working with KGY to better understand their situation, evaluate the structural integrity of the building and explore options.  

 

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Current SEPA Notices

No SEPA Notices at this time.