Rural property in south Thurston County, which has been home to a mining company removing rock, sand and gravel, took another turn this week after the company, Maytown Sand & Gravel, declared it could no longer operate the site and turned it over to the Port of Tacoma, the former owner of the property.
The company, which is headquartered in Federal Way, relinquished the property to the port Tuesday.
Company principal Steve Cortner, who announced its decision in a letter to Port of Tacoma Chief Executive John Wolfe, singled out Thurston County and its delays in issuing a special-use permit as the reasons for giving the property back to the port.
“This horrible delay completely depleted our working capital and we have not been able to recover so that we can make required payments to the port,” Cortner said in his letter.
The company agreed to a 20-year contract with the port in 2010 to purchase the 745-acre site in south Thurston County, near Maytown, for $8.5 million in cash, $8.5 million in sand and gravel at current market prices and interest income of 7 percent over the life of the contract.
Only a portion of that land was used for mining.
To date, the port has received $1.2 million in cash and gravel, but the company owes the port about $2 million, port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said Tuesday.
The port had discussions with the company about the things they could do to bring their arrears current, including relinquishing the property or bringing in another investor, Mattina said.
The port also set a deadline of midnight Tuesday, and the company decided to turn control of the property back over to the port.
Wolfe alerted port staff about the change, saying its plan is to market the property for sale, or, until it sells, to find another operator for mining gravel.
“We take our financial stewardship responsibilities seriously, and will continue to protect the investment we made in this property by maintaining the requirements of the gravel mining permit,” he said.
Maytown Sand & Gravel and the Port of Tacoma have a pending lawsuit against Thurston County for the permit delays. The joint lawsuit is set to go to trial in Lewis County Superior Court in April, according to Cortner’s letter.
Interim Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore defended the county’s permitting process Tuesday.
“The county’s position is that it was an appropriate and thorough review and that we issued our findings in a timely manner,” he said.
It has been a long journey for the Port of Tacoma and its Maytown property, beginning in 2006 when the Port of Tacoma and Port of Olympia identified the site as a possible spot for rail staging.
In order to buy the property in Thurston County, the port needed to sign an interlocal agreement with the Port of Olympia. The Port of Tacoma has since spent about $27.5 million in purchasing and enhancing the property.
A slowing economy and local opposition to the proposed project eventually persuaded both port commissions to let the interlocal agreement expire in June 2008.
The property was later put up for sale.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org