Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Borough planners OK 60-foot tower


The Haines Borough Planning Commission recently approved resident Joanne Waterman’s plan to restore the Port Chilkoot Fire Hall to its original height of roughly 60 feet.

The plan required a variance, as the height limit for buildings in the borough is 30 feet. The request for a variance passed unanimously.

Waterman clarified at the planning commission meeting the final height of the building will be 59 feet and 10.25 inches. “I think given the historical value of this building that it should be easy to grant this (variance),” Waterman said.

Adjacent landowner Sean Gaffney of Alaska Mountain Guides said he couldn’t support the restoration plan more, calling it “a fantastic idea.”

“I think it will only benefit the fort and help to bring more people to the area of the fort. I don’t see any negative impacts of this,” Gaffney said.

Mayor Stephanie Scott also spoke in favor of the restoration, as did planning commission chair Rob Goldberg.

“The fort has evolved over the years into a place where we want visitors to come and look, and I know that the Eiffel Tower draws a lot of visitors,” Goldberg said.

Commissioner Lee Heinmiller expressed his hope that Waterman would design the roof to mimic the original four-sided top instead of maintaining the current peaked roof. Waterman said that was her plan.

Waterman said she would begin buying materials immediately and construction should start this summer.

The redwood-sided tower, included as part of the structure when it was built in 1905, was used to hang water hoses so they could dry. The original tower was truncated before the former Army fort was decommissioned in 1947, but why remains a mystery.


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