More money will be pumped into the Alamitos Bay Marina (ABM) rebuilding project as City Council voted unanimously to amend the existing contract with Bellingham Marine Industries, adding over $16 million to the project that is expected to be completed sometime next year.
The amendment is the tenth made to the contract with the company that won the bid when the city formally set out to rebuild the ABM in February 2010, at an original estimated cost of $96.2 million. That estimated figure has since exceeded $100 million as the city looks to complete the replacement of the 1950s-era marina’s old wooden docks with concrete docks, repair seawalls, and improve facilities and parking lots.
In total, the over $16 million approved by the council Tuesday will be paid for through the Division of Boating and Waterways Harbors and Watercraft revolving fund loan. The approved funds will complete phase 6 and 7 of the project, including the reconstruction of docks 16-20 in Basin 2 and the partial demolition and disposal of existing docks in Basin 3.
Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price lauded the efforts of city staff to continue to find ways to fund the project that avoid taking money out of the city’s general fund and not tapping into Tidelands funds.
“Staff has done an incredible job at trying to be creative with funding sources for this major project and that’s especially appreciated at a time when we are facing some serious constraints on the available monies that we have to work on projects in the Tidelands area,” Price said. “The loan is an example of some of the creative work done by our staff, our parks, recreation and marine department in trying to bring some revenue, some money sources to these projects.”
Director of Financial Management John Gross added that city staff is in the process of exploring the option of funding further waterside improvements to the marina with a bond measure. Gross said that low oil revenues has turned the staff’s focus away from utilizing Tidelands funds. Instead, they have started the process of seeking a bond measure supported by the Marina Fund to complete the improvements. While Gross wasn’t certain that the bond would be successful, he stated that financing seemed to be viable but the end result won't be known for a few months.
“If we can sell it, if it will work out, it will complete the rest of the waterside improvements with a single additional financial transaction, a bond issue, not requiring any additional Tidelands money,” Gross said.
The slow-moving improvements to the ABM, which has been subject to delay due to lack of financial resources, was the subject of a 2011 requested audit from City Auditor Laura Doud. In her report issued in April of that year, Doud questioned the financial viability of the proposed renovations to the marina, stating that certain factors hadn’t been accounted for regarding the marina’s ability to repay loans financing the project.