Borough accelerates port work for potential bond


February 3, 2011

In preparation for "an emerging opportunity" to secure Lutak Dock funding, Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest has requested to speed up the timeline for new studies on the dock.

"We will be putting together a recommendation here for the assembly, in the form of a budget amendment, to accelerate the programming on the Lutak Dock project," Earnest said last month. "I look at it as seed money to leverage state and federal funds for both design and construction, long-term."

At the Jan. 11 borough assembly meeting, Earnest said the borough could benefit from a possible statewide general obligation bond bill focused on port development.

"The information that I’ve got is that it’s in the order of $180 million," Earnest said.

He said the bulk of money would be directed to the Port of Anchorage.

"It’s a port development effort that is focused on the Port of Anchorage, which is not a boat harbor," Earnest said.

"There are other funding opportunities for boat harbors. There’s no other real funding opportunity (for ports). The (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers doesn’t do ports, the state DOT doesn’t do ports, so this is really a unique opportunity."

He said the bond would require statewide voter approval, after adoption by the Alaska Legislature.

The Lutak port facility master plan was included in the list of federal and state legislative priorities the assembly approved in December.

State Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, this week said he had no update on the likelihood of a statewide bond for ports. Thomas said he has heard a few legislators talk about the possibility of funding, so he advised the borough to move forward with studies.

"All I told Mark is that if you want to be ready if they all of a sudden pop a (general obligation) bond out, he should be ready," Thomas said.

According to borough facilities director Brad Maynard, the first additional study on the dock would cost a few thousand dollars, followed by another $30,000 to $50,000 for "a study that would give us a good, strong overview of the potential users of the dock."

"The short-term project we’re working on is for that (general obligation) bond," Maynard said. "We’re going to put together some cost estimates for adding different components to the dock, like strengthening the existing dock face, adding on to the existing dock, providing some uplands storage areas, and maybe some improvements to how they can load and off-load those heavy lift loads."

Programming to measure the expected use of an expanded dock might begin in the spring, he said.

"Long-term, we’re going to do some programming by interviewing some of the potential users and seeing if there is some additional use for the property or the extent of the use for the property," Maynard said.



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