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Grandview voters create state's newest port on November 8, 1988.
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On November 8, 1988, voters in Grandview, located in Yakima County, overwhelmingly approve the creation of the Port of Grandview, the most recent port district to be created in the state. The issue passes by a vote of 1,424 in favor to 811 against. During the same election, three port commissioners are elected: Peter Olmstead, Dean E. Jackson, and Ron Grow. The port district will go on to acquire and develop two important industrial sites, totaling 100 acres, on the west side of Grandview, the Wallace Development and the Stover Road Development. The Port is in the middle of the fruitful orchards, vineyards, and farmlands of the Yakima Valley, and the Port's mission will become to provide support and development for the food-processing industry and to encourage other industries to locate in the Grandview region.
The Value of a Port
In 1965, the Port of Sunnyside floated an idea to annex Grandview into its port district, which had been established a year before. Grandview residents soundly rejected that plan. A petition opposing the 1965 annexation was signed by "100 percent of Grandview's industries" and 250 of its farmers ("Opposition"). The opposition was fueled by a reluctance to increase property taxes.
Twenty-three years later, Grandview residents were far more receptive to the idea of belonging to a port district. Supporters of the Port of Grandview proposal said that residents "have realized the value of a port after years of watching new industry and jobs slip away to neighboring districts" (Baker).
Dennis Byam, one of the leaders of the port drive, said that Grandview had "the Port of Sunnyside on one side and the Port of Benton on the other side, and we could see that Grandview wasn't getting any new industries" ("Grandview Port Approved").
"It's a door we don't want closed for us," said Byam. "We're fighting for our economic lives" (Baker).
Voter sentiment turned out to be strongly in favor of creating the Port of Grandview. The port issue passed with a nearly 64 percent approval vote. Supporters said they were gratified to see Grandview residents so overwhelmingly committed to the idea.
The new commissioners brought a wealth of diverse experience to the board. Olmstead was a Grandview orchardist and former airline pilot; Jackson was a retired pharmacist; and Grow was local dentist.
For Industry and Business
The Port's main goal from the beginning was to acquire and develop land for industrial and business use. In 1998, the Port purchased the Stover Road Development Site. This 50-acre site on the west side of Grandview contains 17 lots ranging from 11 acres to one acre. The Port installed a high-capacity water and wastewater treatment system to "expedite new development and meet the special needs of a large food processing base" (Port website). Platt Electric subsequently purchased a lot and constructed a new building on the site.
In 1999, the Port acquired the 44-acre Wallace Way Development Site, also on the west side of Grandview. The Port developed it with the infrastructure necessary for industrial use, including rail access. Lots were sold to Irrigation Specialists, Columbia River Steel & Construction, Valley Spray, Dionbilt, Sam's Cycle Shop, Olsen Bros., and Grandview Brewing Company (under construction as of 2011).
Olsen Bros. is a $2.4 million, 20,000 square foot organic blueberry packing plant. It was opened in June 2010 and processes berries grown on Yakima Valley farms. The project was made possible due to Supporting Investments in Economic Diversification (SIED) funding granted to the Port.
As of 2011, both the Stover and Wallace sites had sites available for immediate industrial development.
The Port was also involved in another of the biggest economic stories in the region: the building of a 880,0000-square foot Wal-Mart Stores Inc., grocery distribution center in Grandview in 2003. The center is not on Port-owned land but the Port and the City of Grandview worked together to bring the project to the region.
As of 2011, the Port of Grandview's commissioners were Colleen Byam, Ron Grow and Jim Sewell.
"Opposition Rises to Port Proposal," The Spokesman-Review, June 25, 1965, p. 6; Linda Baker, "Grandview Port Issue goes to voters Tuesday," Yakima Herald-Republic, November 6, 1988; "Grandview Port Approved." Tri-City Herald, November 10, 1988; Port of Grandview website accessed February 16, 2011 (www.portofgrandview.org); "Port of Grandview hosts ribbon-cutting for $2.4 million blueberry plant expansion," Sunnyside Daily Sun, June 18, 2010, Sunnyside Daily Sun website accessed February 16, 2011 (www.dailysunnews.com); Jim Kershner telephone interview with Jim Sewell, February 16, 2011.
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