LONGVIEW — The Kalama City Council Thursday approved a shoreline permit for the Port of Kalama’s new small cruise ship dock, moving the project one step closer to construction this fall.
Todd Johnson, consulting city planner, presented the staff report recommending council approve the shoreline substantial development permit with conditions.
The Port of Kalama plans to build a $3.5 million cruise ship dock as part of an agreement with American Cruise Lines. It will be constructed on the riverfront near Marine Park, with work set to start in September and continue through spring 2022.
American Cruise Lines, which operates river cruises on the Columbia and Snake rivers, is the only river cruise that now docks in Kalama. Ships park at the beach at Ahles Point, about half a mile from Marine Park. The port has been working with American Cruise Lines since 2019 to develop a dock as an alternative to beach access.
Port Commissioner Troy Stariha said at the meeting Thursday the cruise ships will bring in people who want to spend “outside dollars” in Kalama without exacerbating the city’s limited parking problem. The project is in line with the port’s other work, including expanding the beach, he said.
“It’s just another way we try to grab onto every opportunity to give people the chance to succeed,” he said.
Jared Cox, owner of Willie Dick’s First Street Tap House in Kalama, said after watching the town change in the last few years, he believes the cruise dock project will help the town grow “better not just bigger.”