A portion of Crescent Bar Island

Lease extensions for as long as 11 years and huge hikes in monthly rent is the option preferred by Grant County PUD staff for the 400 leaseholders on Crescent Bar Island, located in the Columbia River in the state of Washington, according to The Wenatchee World.

Staffers were to present their recommendation to commissioners today (March 29) as part of a larger report that was released Sunday evening.

Current leases for RV and condo owners expire in 2012.

According to the report, PUD staff will recommend that island leaseholders receive lease extensions for up to 11 years, as long as they:

  • Pay market-value rent fees that could range from $1,550 to $1,850 a month for RVs and $2,500 to $3,100 for condos. Fees include a monthly payment for occupying publicly owned land and for improvements to the island’s failing water and sewer systems. Current rates total $33 per year for RV leases and $100 to $626 per year for condo owners. Leaseholders also pay homeowner dues of about $1,400 annually. The new rent and fees amount to what could be about a 1,190 percent increase for RVs and 1,052 percent increase for condos, calculated at the lowest end of the estimated pay range.
  • Prior to 2012, remove all additions, decks, sheds and other structures from RVs to open up roadways and bring the lots into compliance with county codes. According to the staff report, RV lot sizes in the current lease are supposed to measure 350 square feet. These have expanded to as much as 3,600 square feet as many leaseholders added additions, decks and carports to their once-mobile vehicles.
  • Remove all personal property and vacate the island when the extended lease expires. In the report, staffers say this option would give island residents a longer period to get off the island. But getting residents — full and part-time — off the island is the goal, the staff report says, to return the island to full public recreation and wildlife conservation by 2023.
  • Another option, the staff report says, is to require that all island leaseholders get off the island by May 2012.

Today’s commission meeting kicks off a two-week public comment period.

Commissioners will consider staff proposals and make a decision on Crescent Bar by late April. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has final approval authority.

A hot vacation spot, Crescent Bar Island is on the Columbia River at the foot of spectacular basalt cliffs, 27 miles southeast of Wenatchee.

The Grant PUD owns the island as part of the shoreline around its Wanapum Dam.

Restoring the island to public recreation and habitat conservation is a requirement of the PUD’s federal license to operate Wanapum and its sister dam, Priest Rapids.

A FERC official told PUD staff in a letter dated March 10 that residential use on the island is “inconsistent with the commission’s policy of maximizing public recreational development.”

Island residents say they have taken care of the island and want to stay.

Crescent Bar covers almost 160 acres. Half is currently occupied by private development, including the RVs, condos and a 9-hole golf course.