A cost estimate for the Picture Point Wayside project has come in at roughly $730,000, more than double the amount of grant money available for improvements.
The borough has about $320,000 in grant money for the project, so the borough’s design committee will have to prioritize elements of the project so “extra” components can be added as funding becomes available.
Members of the committee met Feb. 24 to discuss public comments submitted during a recent presentation of the project’s conceptual design. The design depicts a park split into three sections: north and south pullout areas with restrooms, pavilions and other amenities, and a third section with a trail system leading toward town.
The committee received about a dozen comments, and elected to leave the design mostly the same. However, they did remove plans for the installation of pilings – intended to suggest an old dock jutting out into the water – after receiving several critical comments.
“The row of pilings running down to the water has got to go,” said resident Jim Green. “It will distract from the view and look as if someone forgot to remove them from another project. There are plenty of old pilings elsewhere if someone wants to look at them.”
Plans for a concrete patio with an inlaid map of the Chilkat River area engraved into the stone are being left in the plan right now, though that element also received some criticism.
“The cement doesn’t look natural,” wrote Alan and Mae Haines. “The view is out across the water, not at your feet.”
While many residents had small suggestions or minor alterations to the conceptual design, they also expressed an appreciation for the general plan and aesthetics of the park.
John Hagen said he approved of the multi-use design, which allows buses and tourists to occupy one area while simultaneously setting aside space for walking, picnicking and sitting around a campfire.
“It is a world-class view that needs more than a gravel-strewn parking lot,” Hagen said.
Michael Marks, a member of the borough’s Tourism Advisory Board, called the park “a very important addition to the quality of life for Haines residents and visitors.” Marks also recommended the borough run electric service out to the site so outdoor sound systems can be hooked up for events like concerts.
Not everyone is pleased with development of the area.
C.J. Roberts called Picture Point “sufficient unto itself” and said any structures will detract from the natural view and require maintenance.
Bill Annis also said the area should be left alone. Annis said the park was “unattractive,” and would “dramatically diminish the beauty, privacy and tranquility that is Picture Point.”
Project manager Mark Kimerer said his firm Bettisworth North will work on a preferred design for the project – minus the faux-dock pilings – which can be shown to prospective bidders.
The Picture Point design committee is comprised of Meredith Pochardt (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).