The Hammond Marina is a beloved place in Warrenton. Upkeep was taken over from the US Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) in 1967 when it was leased by the Town of Hammond. The City of Warrenton took over the lease in 1991 and has been working to improve the site.
Last summer, the Marina team repaired docks and added an overnight stay area for fishermen and visitors to camp on the site. “It’s a pretty spot out there, you can see all of Astoria,” Jane Sweet, City of Warrenton Harbormaster shares. “Not many things cooler than watching the boat activity, it’s a unique spot in the world.” And with 700 to 1,000 launches on a good day, that is a lot of maneuvering to observe. And when those boats catch a whopper, fishermen display their catch on the new Trophy Board added last summer. These improvements are appreciated by fishermen, but everyone is waiting for the next big step, dredging the marina.
Dredging the marina has been on the minds of Warrenton recreational and commercial fishermen for a while. Currently, the marina houses mainly recreational boats due to the strong east wind and the shallow waters. Entering and exiting the marina can be tricky for these smaller rigs, which is why 30,000 pound commercial fishermen often avoid the Hammond Marina waters since this crucial step hasn’t taken place.
The City of Warrenton is in the process of purchasing the Marina from the USACE. This summer the USACE underwent a study to evaluate if the sale would affect surrounding land, water, and wildlife. The study concluded that the purchase and dredging would not have any detrimental effects. A public hearing took Warrenton resident’s input into account and agreements were sent into the state in December 2018. “We have been trying everyday for the past two years,” Jane explains. And now, the waiting begins. The dredging season runs from October 1st through February 28th. Jane says the department is hoping for progress before the fast approaching deadline, but are prepared for all scenarios. “If we can’t do it now, are going to be ready to go next season,” she explains. “We may not be able to now, but we want users to know we are thinking about them.”
Although dredging is on the forefront of staff and users’ minds, other projects are on the list for Hammond Marina as well. The docks at the Marina are wood pilings. Every year, every storm, every strong wind, can cause them damage. Jane and her staff visit the site daily ensuring safety for users, but welcome community members’ calls when they see a hazard or problem. Already in 2019, the staff have been out to fix broken docks due to high tides. “We don’t want to lose it,” Jane explains. “But there is only a certain amount of age they can hold up.” Someday wider commercial docks would be ideal at Hammond, similar to the remodel done at the Warrenton Marina, but for now, staff are keeping a close eye on current facilities.
Jane’s team has a clear vision of the future at Hammond, which goes beyond the basics needed to keep the Marina useable. Once these necessities are underway, the team has plans to improve the experience for users in other ways too. A more established trail from Fort Stevens with restrooms, garbage and security is a goal. So is an added dock for fishing and crabbing, “Not everyone can afford a boat, now when people call us and ask where to go, we tell them to go to the bridge in Seaside,” Jane explains. Warrenton would love to keep those residents and visitors in town to enjoy the area after their fishing excursion.
The Marina is also developing a program to support Veteran fishers. “It would be like at pubs, you can pay it forward,” Jane explains. Currently users often overpay for their boat launch or campsite fees, so the Marina has an account of miscellaneous funds ready to be utilized by the community. Jane says the ‘Launch a Vet’ program is in its final stages and will be implemented soon.
“We have a great community working for us,” Jane explains of the City of Warrenton staff. Improving and updating the Marina is on the forefront of her mind, and the minds of the city. “I know users are frustrated,” she says of the delay in dredging. “Stay positive! You’re welcome to come and talk to us and look at what we are doing.” Jane says, everyone working together on these projects will bring desired change.