Humboldt Bay harbor district director Jack Crider to resign, plans to aid district


The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is set to launch a nationwide search for a new executive director after its current director Jack Crider announced his intent to resign in October.

The district’s Board of Commissioners is expected to meet at a currently unscheduled time next week to discuss the transition process and the search for Crider’s successor.

“I think we’re lucky to have had him as long as we did,” 2nd Division harbor district Commissioner Greg Dale said of Crider. “I’m grateful for everything he did. I think we have come a long way in the harbor district. A lot of things on our plate. I think the future looks good, largely in thanks to Jack.”

Crider told the Times-Standard on Tuesday that he is resigning because he accepted a position as the chief executive officer of a New Mexico water and wastewater district, Entranosa Water & Wastewater Association.

As part of his latest employment contract with the district this year, Crider had been allowed to work part-time from his home in New Mexico, which he said he and his wife bought in 2013. Crider said that he told the harbor commission that he would work at least five years with the district before moving to New Mexico.

Crider said he is set to start his new job in November, but is planning to continue working as a consultant for the harbor district for the upcoming months as part of the Arcata consulting firm Planwest Partners on various projects not limited to dredging of Humboldt Bay and King Salmon, pre-permitting of oyster farm projects and commercial fishing infrastructure projects in Shelter Cove.

“Until they tell me, ‘Stop working for us,’ I’ll work for your guys,” Crider said with a laugh from his New Mexico home on Tuesday. “... I’m not disappearing at all, I’m just juggling one more thing.”

Three of the five current commissioners sitting on the harbor district’s Board of Commissioners were on the commission when it hired Crider in 2012. Crider was chosen out of a pool of about 25 candidates following the dismissal of his predecessor David Hull in September 2011, according to previous coverage by the Times-Standard.

Prior to his position in Humboldt County, Crider served as executive director of the Port of Astoria in Oregon following a tenure as the Port of Tillamook Bay’s executive director from 1991 to 2007.

Harbor commissioners credited Crider with helping to pull the harbor district out of dire financial straits following the Great Recession.

“Jack was a pretty much fiscal conservative that really tightened the financial ropes,” harbor commission President and 4th Division Commissioner Richard Marks said. “He was more than instrumental. He was able to come in and administratively take actions to keep the harbor district solvent. He was very forward thinking about where we would go.”

Fifth Division Commissioner Patrick Higgins said Tuesday that Crider worked to diversify the harbor districts assets and economic underpinnings rather than focus them primarily on international shipping. Higgins, Marks and Dale said that nowhere is this more evident than in the district’s decision to purchase the Freshwater Tissue pulp mill in Samoa in 2013, removing millions of gallons of toxic liquors from the site and converting the property into an economic hub.

“Without Jack’s vision and courage we would still be there with 3 million gallons of toxic liquor,” Higgins said. “Instead of having that as a tremendous threat to Humboldt Bay and a blight and an eyesore, we’re revitalizing it so it’s an integral part of the local economy and no longer a threat to the environment and a tremendous boon to the community.”

Marks said that as the harbor district still has many complex projects that Crider’s replacement will have to pick up quickly, including dredging the channel at King Salmon, dredging in the Eureka marina and pre-permitting of oyster farms in the bay.

Several of these projects have been held up by regulatory hurdles, which in the past had frustrated Crider. Crider said in a previous interview with the Times-Standard that he had been requesting the county and state since 2013 to open up the coastal lands along Humboldt Bay that were reserved solely for coastal industries, such as fishing and mining, to new types of industries. Without this change, the district would have a limited pool of potential tenants that could use its pulp mill warehouse property, which the district has spent millions of dollars on — a large portion of which came from loans — to improve over the past few years.

Flaunting county land use laws, Crider created lease agreements with four local businesses — some of which he said had been displaced by the cannabis industry, though others refute that — in 2016 allowing them to set up in the pulp mill’s warehouse space.

“Jack has been at odds with agencies that have slowed down his processes,” Marks said. “You want somebody like that. There are other people who would say, ‘We lost’ and turn around and walk away. Jack does not accept defeat. ... He’s a problem solver. He finds solutions.”

The Coastal Commission voted earlier this month to open up these coastal lands to new industries, which Crider said will open the door to new tenants using the pulp mill property and allow the district to begin paying off millions of dollars of loans it took out to revitalize the property.

Crider said working in Humboldt County has been a great experience, not just for the work itself, but also because of the people he has met.

“Whoever replaces me, I know they are going to thoroughly enjoy their work,” Crider said.

Marks said they are still working out the time for next week’s meeting to discuss Crider’s replacement.

“Whoever fills his shoes is going to have to start running. Boots on the ground,” Marks said.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.