November 3, 2011 |

Picture Point, parks to be addressed in borough code

The Haines Borough would establish a public park at Picture Point and increase regulation of parks borough-wide under two ordinances the assembly introduced last week.

Borough manager Mark Earnest said the Picture Point park ordinance was required as compensatory mitigation for aquatic resources lost through recent expansion of the Port Chilkoot Dock project, which included new restrooms and a parking lot.

A September memo from PND Engineers of Juneau said the mitigation "includes restoration and enhancement of intertidal shoreline at Picture Point to establish tide pools and creation of a park" to "compensate for loss of aquatic functions resulting from the discharge of fill material into waters" associated with the recent construction near Port Chilkoot Dock.

"In order to satisfy the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit requirements, the (Picture Point) improvements have to be preserved and protected ‘in perpetuity,’ and this was a mechanism to accomplish that, so that’s the reason for the ordinance," Earnest said.

The ordinance applies to about 0.65 acres "of tidelands and submerged lands located at Picture Point owned by the borough" and would allow for "use of the property for all purposes consistent with this establishment of a public park, including, but not limited to, the right to quiet enjoyment of the property … traditional and contemporary subsistence and cultural activities, (and) the right to hunt, fish, gather, and hike on the property."

The second park ordinance the assembly discussed last week would "generally provide for the governance of borough parks."

"When we were going through the code for placing (the Picture Point ordinance) in the appropriate title … there was no chapter for parks, so we put together some language that would establish parks in code," Earnest said.

The two-page ordinance says parks and any "playground or water under the jurisdiction of the borough" will "be maintained and governed under regulations which shall provide the greatest possible public use by all citizens as may be allowed by the finances available."

"Parks in Haines are in a sad state," resident Norm Hughes said at the meeting. "We have many pieces of land that the borough designates for parks, and they end up just being places where people camp."

The first public hearings for both park ordinances have been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 15. Earnest said he expected amendments would be discussed at that meeting.

He said one change likely would be in the general park ordinance, to add wording about the need for assembly approval of the manager’s actions. When introduced, the ordinance had the language, "The borough manager is empowered to make such rules and regulations pertaining to the conduct and use of parks and playgrounds as are consistent with this chapter and as are necessary to administer the same or to protect public property or the safety, health, morals or welfare of the public."

That ordinance also prohibits scattering garbage and breaking bottles or glass containers "in such manner that fragments of glass may be strewn around" within parks.

"I hope this is a starting step that will guide us to developing our parks and having more control over them, so they just don’t end up being places that people dump garbage, that we have to clean up every spring," Hughes said.

Operating "a motor vehicle, off-the-road vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, motorcycle, snow machine or other motorized vehicle over, upon or through a public park, within the borough, unless as expressly provided for in the ordinances of the borough" also would be prohibited in the ordinance.