Port of South Whidbey commissioners restructure staff, look to future

Port of South Whidbey commissioners will implement a series of staff changes next week.

Operations Manager Ed Field looks on during a Port of South Whidbey meeting last year. Field will continue working on the South Whidbey Harbor expansion project through the public opening in April.

Port of South Whidbey commissioners will implement a series of staff changes next week.

During the special meeting Tuesday, Feb. 4, the commissioners announced Dane Anderson, a former financial manager with the port, will return as a consultant to help the port survey and reassess the needs of the existing facilities. Anderson will then aid commissioners in defining the job descriptions of district staff.

The commissioners’ end goal is to restructure staff duties and create a new lower-level position to focus on maintenance and operations, and an executive director position combining the financial director’s duties and general operations.

They hope to hire a maintenance and operations person in May and combine the duties of the executive position by the end of the year.

“We have too many missions and not enough specific staff to fill them,” Commissioner Curt Gordon said.

After working through the Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Plan this year, it became apparent to the commissioners that restructuring was needed.

Port Operations Manager Ed Field will step down from the full-time position and shift gears to an in-house construction manager focusing on the South Whidbey Harbor project.

“The port is moving in a different direction, and it’s understandable,” Field said.

Field has worked for the port for 10 years and said he doesn’t know if he will return for any of the port district’s positions.

“I’ve enjoyed working here and am looking forward to wrapping up the project,” he added.

Field will continue in the position of construction manager through the completion and public opening of the harbor, scheduled some time in April.

Gordon said the expansion project required a lot more time from the employees than anticipated.

“We could see it was difficult for an individual to run a project of that size and still be a facilities manager and deal with separate consulting and permit issues,” the commissioner said.

Gordon hopes with each future project to hire a construction manager on a case-by-case basis instead of tapping the resources of existing staff, he said.

The harbor expansion and the oncoming project at Possession Point provided “a window of opportunity” for the restructuring, Commissioner Dennis Gregoire said.

Gregoire, who has previously worked with port districts, noted this is a common framework used around the state.

“We’re trying to assess the environment in which we are operating and what’s the best arrangement of resources,” Gregoire said.

The commissioners will continue to work out the duties of each position in the next few months as Field wraps up his time with the port.

The next regular meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation office, 5475 Maxwelton Road, and includes public participation.

 

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