Blaine City Council unanimously approved reimbursing Drayton Harbor Maritime (DHM) for an additional $16,800 that the nonprofit spent outside of its contract with the city to repair the Plover passenger ferry. Council also requested during its September 11 meeting that the city staff solicit bids to complete the vessel’s remaining repairs before next summer.
Last fall, the U.S. Coast Guard found deficiencies in the Plover that required major repairs before it could resume transporting people between Blaine Harbor and Semiahmoo Spit. The city originally allocated $30,000 for the repair, but DHM went over the contracted amount by $17,800, according to city documents. DHM spent about $1,000 on work outside of the project scope that the city will not reimburse.
As the Plover underwent work this year, it became clear the repairs were more involved than the 79-year-old boat’s original restoration in the mid-’90s, Plover captain Richard Sturgill previously said. Repairs are being made to the hull, keel and bow.
The city’s funding pays for Plover repairs up to this point, but additional money is needed to finish restoration. The repairs are now estimated to cost an upward of $130,000, which is about three to four times more than originally anticipated, Harmon said.
The repair contract expired August 31 and city staff will solicit quotes for bids to complete the project as it would for any other capital improvement, city manager Michael Harmon said. The lowest bidder could be DHM, Harmon said, but the city needed to do its due diligence by opening the bidding process.
“I don’t think there’s any disagreement that the Plover is a very valuable asset to the city – it is,” mayor Mary Lou Steward said. “It’s ‘How is the best way to manage it?’ Is it for the city to take it over, bid it like any other piece of property the city owns and run it so it’s sustainable or not?”
Councilmember Eric Davidson said he was worried the city hasn’t properly managed the Plover’s finances by only requiring a $5 fee for adult passengers.
“The Plover is a great, great thing,” he said. “With that being said, we run it like a drunken sailor.”
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