Haines port 'summit' on Sept. 27
Haines Borough officials say the town won’t likely see transshipment of ore at Lutak Dock for at least five years, but members of the Haines Port Development Council say it’s not too early to discuss possibilities.
The private group led by residents Bill Kurz, Dave Nanney and Dave Berry, are holding a “Minerals, Natural Gas and Transportation Summit” beginning 7 p.m. Sept. 27.
The summit will be an opportunity for mine developers, government officials and others to express what they might be able to do for the town, and for the town to identify what it could do for them, Kurz said.
Kurz calls the transshipment of ore through Haines “the next cleanest dollar” after tourism,” saying modern shipping is by sealed containers. “It’s not the environmental hazard it used to be, or as noisy as it used to be.”
In addition to Yukon and Alaska mining officials, and representatives of the state Department of Transportation and Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), Kurz has invited representatives of the Alaska Railroad.
“If you look at the list of people who have confirmed (attending), there’s an awful lot of interest,” Kurz said.
A rail study by the administration of former Gov. Frank Murkowski shows favorable economics for a line between Delta Junction and Haines, Kurz said. “The idea of rail through Haines is nothing new. The Yukon would love to see it happen and the mines would love to see it happen.”
The two-day event will include a tour of local port facilities and a discussion with Haines Chamber of Commerce members Sept. 28. Part of the purpose of the summit is to make connections, Kurz said.
Kurz has been critical of borough efforts at port development, saying a borough-organized Port Development Steering Committee has been too narrowly focused on the Lutak Dock when there are several other potential dock sites.
The borough government may not be the ideal vehicle for moving the issue forward, he said in an interview this week.
“Government works at government speed and many times that’s good. But when it comes to marketing a port, you need to say ‘yes’ or ‘no” to people who have a plan to do something,” Kurz said.
Assemblywoman Debra Schnabel will make a presentation at the summit on behalf of the Haines Borough. “We’re guests along with everyone else. We’ll see what happens,” said Mayor Stephanie Scott.
Kurz said the conference promises to be “the greatest concentration of Alaska and Yukon government and industry representatives ever in one room” in Haines. “If we can’t make something good come out of this, we might as well fold the tents and shut it down,” he said.
The council, formed last spring, describes itself as “a consortium of trans-boundary private and government entities with a mutual interest in the Port of Haines, Alaska and its strategic potential.”
Its website is http://www.hainesalaskaport.com.