OLYMPIA — A new moorage agreement was announced during the Port of Olympia commission work session Tuesday — one that will keep the former Washington state ferry alongside the marine terminal through May 2022.
Marine terminal director, Len Faucher, told the commission on Tuesday that the relatively new owner of the 310-foot vessel needs more time to convert the ferry to battery power.
The owner, Bart Lematta of Vancouver, bought the ferry at auction earlier this year, paying $290,000 for it. Lematta could not be reached Tuesday; however, he often has talked about the importance of sustainability and a desire to power the ferry by sustainable means.
The new agreement took effect July 1 and runs through May 31, 2022. It pays the port $17,000 per month, or $190,000 over the duration of the contract.
The port, according to information shared at Tuesday’s meeting, also has taken steps to ensure they do not have a repeat of what happened with the previous owner of the ferry. That owner, who struck an agreement with the port in early 2018, ultimately did not pay his bills. The vessel was finally seized and sold at auction.
In addition to the monthly moorage rate, the ferry owner has agreed to provide a $1 million security bond for any “unforeseen issues or failure to maintain his responsibilities in the service agreement,” according to port information.
The port also has the option to move the ferry between berths 1 and 2, and if it has to be moved, the tying and untying of lines will be handled by longshore workers at the owner’s expense. The same applies if longshore workers load cargo onto the ferry, Faucher said.
The port and Lematta also have the option of canceling the deal with 30-days’ notice.
Commissioner Joe Downing cited a recent Pacific Maritime Magazine piece about the state’s efforts to convert some of its ferries to electrical propulsion.
“That’s right on track with what he’s trying to do,” said Downing about Lematta.