Where do we go from here? Meeting on Samoa pulp mill's future to be held Feb. 10

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and Humboldt State University representatives are holding an open house on Feb. 10 to discuss the vision for what the site of the old Samoa pulp mill could become.

Currently, there is a conceptual plan with some proposed options, including storage for logs and a filter for water treatment, on how to utilize the property, said Rhea Williamson, HSU's dean of research, economic and community development.

"It's a vision," Williamson said. "There are certainly a lot of other options and ideas that might be integrated into the plan, and some may or may not work out."

Jack Crider, the district's chief executive officer, said the open house is an opportunity to hear new ideas.

"It's exciting when folks come in and say, 'Oh, what about this?'" Crider said.

Attendees will be able to talk to those involved with the site. Topics such as existing assets like electricity and water available at the site will be discussed, Williamson said.

Jacqueline Debets, county director of economic development, said toxic risks at the mill have been secured.

"It's important for the public to see how far the site has come in a short period of time," Debets said, "and it's important for the public to see the vision for the mill's future and provide their input."

Williamson said she thinks transparency and communication are key to any effort addressing regional economic growth.

"I think the event is a great opportunity to revisit the possibilities of the site," Williamson said. "Right now, I think the mill might be viewed by many as an eyesore. The vision that's being considered really draws on natural resources and the beauty of the area."

The recreation and conservation district owns 72 acres of the property, including docks, and is looking to acquire an additional 80 acres. The building's first tenant, Taylor Shellfish, has signed a lease, Crider said.

Williamson said the revival of the site would certainly address some of the concerns around job loss and the economic needs of the community.

"This is really an opportunity to allow input from whomever wants to provide it," Williamson said, "and to move forward a positive vision for that area."

On the Web: Take a look into the mill's potential future at www.greenwaypartners.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/NMRIP-CONCEPT-BROCHURE-web.pdf

If You Go:

What: Samoa pulp mill open house

When: Monday, Feb. 10, 2 p.m.

Where: Humboldt State University Aquatic Center, 921 Waterfront Dr., in Eureka

The district and university request prospective attendees please RSVP to the district clerk by Feb. 5. Email clerk@humboldtbay.org or call 443-0801.

Staff writer Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or jsingh@times-standard.com.