OLYMPIA - Port of Olympia officials on Friday took criticism for their plan to award nearly a $2.8 million contract in preparation for a Weyerhaeuser log export business.
The port commission is scheduled to consider awarding the contract to SCI Construction of Pacific on Monday. The work would include paving, drainage and stormwater pre-treatment improvements, erecting glare-reducing light poles, extension of utility services and moving a natural gas line.
Various lawsuits seeking more environmental impact review of the Weyerhaeuser business have delayed the arrival of the log export venture since last summer.
Some of the lawsuits are pending in federal and county courts.
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Findings by the port, Weyerhaeuser and a consultant concluded in April the project would cause no significant environment impact. The Olympia port has a five-year lease for Weyerhaeuser to export logs to Japan.
"We believe we have undergone intensive scrutiny," said Jeff Lincoln, the port's director of engineering. "We have done an extensive environmental review. The advice I have received is to move the project forward."
Weyerhaeuser is expected to construct offices and a maintenance facility. Lincoln estimated that work could begin early next year. Barring further delays, Lincoln has estimated the export operation, now in Tacoma, could begin operations in Olympia in spring of next year.
Activists seeking more environmental review criticized the port for planning to award a construction contract. They believe it should wait until all pending lawsuits have been settled.
"I frankly am puzzled and confounded from time to time about how arrogant they (port officials) can be," said Walt Jorgensen, among those suing the port to obtain more environmental review of Weyerhaeuser's business. "It's just the way they operate."
Weyerhaeuser hopes to move to Olympia to reduce transportation distances to export docks from its southwest Washington tree farms.
Jim Szymanski is business editor for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-357-0748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's port commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the LOTT boardroom, Market Centre Building, 111 Market Street N.E., second floor, in Olympia. For more information, call 360-528-8000.