My name is Kyle Markstrom, and I want to take a moment to share some insights into recent developments surrounding Centralia Station, a project that holds great promise for our community.
As your elected District 1 port commissioner, it's my duty to help ensure the prosperity and economic growth of our community.
Centralia Station has been a long-term vision. While there have been significant hurdles and some setbacks, I am thrilled that it is now becoming a reality. The anchor tenant, WinCo Foods, has been a fantastic partner, and their commitment to building a store in our community is evident. Their employee-owned model aligns perfectly with our vision for a thriving local economy, offering both well-paying jobs and an additional grocery shopping option for our growing community.
During my time as your port commissioner, the No. 1 question I have been asked by constituents is,“when will we be able to shop at WinCo?” I understand that not everyone has the time to closely follow the business of the port. That's why I'm sharing this update. Many of you are incredibly excited about WinCo coming to Centralia, and you deserve to know how the process of bringing WinCo here is going.
Unfortunately, there have been multiple instances where one of my fellow port commissioners voted against critical WinCo-related resolutions. These instances raise questions for me about the motivations behind these objections and their potential to hinder the progress of Centralia Station.
Recent news on port activities and meetings have reported that the commission has had a 2-1 split vote on some actions related to Centralia Station. I wanted to provide some additional context for your understanding of those meetings:
On Sept. 13, during a special meeting, Commissioner Peter Lahmann voted “no” on Resolution 2023-05, claiming that the provided maps were outdated. In reality, the maps were up to date in relation to the resolution at hand, and this objection appeared to be unfounded. It is important to note that during this meeting, both port staff and port legal counsel were present to answer any questions. Commissioner Lahmann had ample time and opportunity to ask any clarifying questions. A question was asked of the port’s attorney, to which an answer was given.
The intent of the resolution was twofold. First, to surplus the land owned by the port located in Centralia Station and, secondly, to amend the port’s master plan to permit the sale of acquired land in Centralia Station. Any land owned by a public agency such as the port must first be surplused before it can be sold to tenants. I believe the commission had before us every piece of information we needed to make an informed decision on the resolution. It is disappointing to me that Commissioner Lahmann would vote no on the basis of not having enough correct information when that was clearly not the case.
Another concerning instance occurred on June 22, 2022, when Commissioner Lahmann voted “no” to amending the existing purchase and sale agreement with Powell Development, WinCo's developer. The amendment was a standard transfer of the agreement from Powell to WinCo. His “no” vote was based on a claim that he did not have the information in his email prior to the meeting. However, it was later confirmed by port staff that Commissioner Lahmann had received the information but had not opened the email. This “no” vote only served to delay our work.
Fortunately, these items did both pass 2-1. These votes were critical in moving forward the transaction with WinCo and without their passing any transaction with WinCo as well as other potential tenants would not be possible.
I will emphasize that I believe discussion, questions and even disagreement on the Port of Centralia Commission or within any elected body is not only healthy, but normal. I also believe that every elected official should be forthright about their reasons for opposing a vote and that falsely accusing staff of providing inaccurate information or withholding information is a gross violation of public trust.
I share this information because I believe there is a pattern of trying to undermine the port's efforts in securing WinCo as the anchor tenant for Centralia Station, as well as recruiting and retaining other businesses. Our community's excitement for WinCo's arrival is palpable, and I want to ensure that you are kept in the loop about the progress and any challenges we face. As your elected port commissioner, I am steadfast in being educated and informed on all port business and I also commit to making the best decisions possible for my constituents.
I made a campaign promise in 2021 that I would see through the transaction with WinCo and the development of Centralia Station. Despite the challenges, I am as determined as ever to see WinCo built, and the balance of Centralia Station developed for the greater good of the community. I take my role as your port commissioner seriously and I am honored to play a small role in economic development that I am confident will bring prosperity for this community that I love so much.
Together, we will overcome any challenges and ensure a bright future for Centralia.
I can be reached at email@example.com with your questions or concerns. I enjoy talking about all things port, so please reach out anytime.
Kyle Markstrom is a commissioner for the Port of Centralia.