May 31, 2012 | Volume 42, No.22

Private group pushing for Lutak port

The Haines Borough recently launched a Haines Port Development Steering Committee. Three residents have since formed the Haines Port Development Council – described as a private-sector cooperative research group – with a similar aim to encourage Yukon Territory mines to ship through Haines.

Mayor Stephanie Scott attended a May 7 meeting of the Haines Port Development Council at the public library. She said the private group should be clear that it does not represent the borough when communicating with mining officials.

“I think that we just cannot afford to confuse our people out there with what’s the borough and what’s this private group,” Scott said. Board members for the Haines Port Development Council are Dave Berry, Chilkoot Indian Association tribal administrator; and residents Bill Kurz and Dave Nanney.

The CIA is in line to receive the former Army tank farm, including its dock, when that property is released by the federal government.

The borough steering committee includes Michael Ganey; Fred Gray; Scott Hansen, Chilkoot Indian Association; Chip Lende; Roger Maynard, Haines Borough Planning Commission; Doug Olerud; and Haines Borough Assembly members Debra Schnabel and Joanne Waterman. The committee recommended Northern Economics to provide consulting services for the first phase of a Haines port development plan.

The assembly in April awarded a $43,550 contract to Northern Economics for the work that will include a competitive assessment of Haines and other ports and an evaluation of potential demand.

Nanney sent out the Haines Port Development Council’s mission statement in March, stating the private group “proposes to be the hub of an information network using the Internet and social media to synchronize the Port of Haines, Alaska with the future of the region,” and will be “composed of trans-boundary private and government entities with a mutual interest in the Port of Haines and its strategic assets and potential beneficial uses.”

Nanney said the council eventually would have a website and seek memberships. “We’re looking at trying to get Haines caught up with a future that we know is coming at us relatively quickly,” he said.

Berry referred to the Lutak Dock, the dock at the former sawmill site, and the old tank farm fuel dock as three potential options for shipments and said the council is “an informational, promotional group that wants to promote the Haines valley – all three facilities.”

“Surely, we’re not going to develop all three of those docks to the standard that is required,” Scott said. “Don’t we have to have some kind of master plan that is going to make development the most economical?”

Nanney said a port development and management corporation might be necessary for the private ports.

Kurz said he had contacted several mining companies to promote Haines as an alternative to Skagway.

“They realize that square feet, they’re running out of Skagway, and they need something else,” Kurz said. “The fact that there’s so much more mining going on, it’s got to go someplace, and it physically just won’t fit in Skagway.”