Designers consider Picture Pt.
Plans for development of the Picture Point Wayside are under way, with the design team estimating they will have a preferred alternative ready by spring.
The ad hoc Picture Point Design Committee met Tuesday with representatives of the contracted landscape architecture firm Bettisworth North (which designed the new Haines School) and subcontractor Aeolian to kick around design ideas and discuss how the project will move forward.
The scope of the project includes dry restrooms, a pavilion, vehicle parking, picnic spots, ADA-accessible trails to the beach and interpretive signage. The trails are intended to connect to a future waterfront trail leading to downtown Haines, the boat harbor, and ultimately Portage Cove State Park.
Where those elements will go and how they will be designed is up to the committee and the architects. “We have those pieces to play with,” said Haines Borough’s executive assistant to the manager Darsie Culbeck.
The design committee is comprised of Brad Ryan (Takshanuk Watershed Council), Rob Goldberg (Haines Borough Planning Commission), Barbara Mulford (Haines Chamber of Commerce), Judy Heinmiller (Tourism Advisory Board) and John Hirsh (Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee).
The borough acquired the parcel in April. Though plans for the five acres are still in their infancy, committee members started sharing preferences with the architects Tuesday.
Goldberg suggested installing a large Plexiglas panel in front of at least one of the five or six picnic tables, to protect against fierce south winds that frequently batter the point. He also expressed a preference for preserving the creek and green area that runs through the parcel, which is roughly divided into two lots.
Susan Luescher, Haines resident and owner of Aeolian Landscape Architects, floated the idea of a concert space, maybe a raised platform where bands could perform with the backdrop of the iconic view of Fort Seward.
The group also discussed designing the park to balance between its two primary users: tourists and locals.
Assembly member Debra Schnabel, the only member of the public to attend Tuesday’s meeting, reminded the group that the spot holds a special place in the community and shouldn’t be solely designed around the needs and wants of tourists. Throughout the years, it has had many names – Picture Point, Nukdik Point, “The W’s,” Garbage Point – and Schnabel urged the committee to “hang on to the deeper meaning the point has in this community.”
“This didn’t develop as a tourism-related project,” she said.
Culbeck echoed Schnabel’s sentiment. “We want to make sure we don’t displace locals,” he said.
Architect Luescher will conduct a site analysis of the property to determine the “opportunities and constraints that the site offers,” including views, sun, orientation, pedestrian and vehicle access, beach access and existing natural features such as tide pools, vegetation and streams.
Luescher and project manager Mark Kimerer will consider the project timeline and get back to the group, but intend to have two or three design alternatives for the committee by early to mid-December. The committee by that point may include additional stakeholders who have yet to be identified.
After stakeholders weigh in on the alternatives, comments will be considered and a preferred alternative will be identified. A public meeting will be held this winter to gather comments on the preferred alternative.
While Kimerer said a finished design could be ready by spring, allowing for construction this summer, Culbeck expressed skepticism about that timeline.
“I don’t know if that’s possible... We don’t want to be so aggressive that we don’t do a good job,” he said.
Culbeck said the borough has about $380,000 in grant money to spend on the project.
Bettisworth North’s past design projects include the Downtown Fairbanks Wayfinding Project, Anchorage’s Abbot Loop Community Park, and Denali National Park’s Polychrome and Teklanika rest areas. The borough is contracting with Bettisworth North for $8,000.