Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chelan Seaplanes wants lease at Three Fingers

CHELAN - Shane Carlson from Chelan Seaplanes announced this past week that he is in talks with Goodfellow Bros. Inc. of Wenatchee, to accept a two year lease to operate on the easternmost Finger of the Three Fingers on the South Shore of Lake Chelan. The agreement comes a month after Carlson announced the suspension of the service following a lease termination at its current location.

Shortly after the announcement in December, a petition to "Save Chelan Seaplanes" swirled around the community and garnered over 1,500 signatures.

Mayor Mike Cooney then called a Special Meeting at Chelan City Hall on Dec. 8, with Carlson, Sunset Marina owner Scott McKellar, representatives from the Port of Chelan County and other community leaders to address the lease termination and try to find a viable solution.

Various locations were thrown out at the meeting by the city and community members, but Shane had reservations on all of them, except the location on the infamous Fingers, which wasn't discussed at much length because of on-going litigation.

"I got to meet with Steve (Goodfellow) over the holiday and we talked about the litigation and future plans they had there, and we agreed to move forward with their offer," Carlson said. "Now we are pursuing it and trying to get with the city to get set up. Nothing is for sure at the moment, it's all verbal and we still have to figure out if the city will allow it and what the Chelan Basin Conservancy (CBC) will say. There are also permitting hurdles that are a challenge as well."

If Carlson moves to the new location he will have to incur other additional costs to operate.

"I'll have to get an above ground fuel storage, and we intend on building a temporary structure that is somewhat portable for an office. Parking is another issue because of the requirements and can be a significant expense that we can't afford," Carlson stated. "To lay down blacktop for two years and then possibly tear it up with the uncertainty with the lawsuit of the property. So it is not prudent to do anything permanent."

Aside from parking and additional development cost, the main concern for Shane is the arduous permitting process that could hinder and delay the opening date for summer 2017 service.

"That is the main issue at the moment," Carlson said. "There will be significant investment involved because if we can't get permits until July or August and be able to get out to the public that is a huge issue to us. It will be a significant expense for us to set up shop for two years and not use the full season. We would have to pass on this year and then only have one more year to operate."

As far as Chelan Seaplanes operating after the two year lease, that is still up in the air.

"We're still waiting on the Port of Chelan to see if they have any ideas for a future move. There is a potential chance for the lease at the Three Fingers to be extended or it could be the end of it, we don't know. We'll first have to see if the CBC will buy off on it or if they will oppose us temporarily occupying the property."


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