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

Assembly chooses Lutak Dock option


The Haines Borough Assembly agreed to pursue a $37.4 million project to refurbish Lutak Dock as the borough’s preferred option, but only if grant funding is available.

The Planning Commission and Port and Harbor Advisory Committee both recommended to the assembly early this year Alternative 1A posed by firm R&M consultants. The option includes encapsulation of existing cells – steel frames filled with rock that support the dock structure – and reclamation of three cells that have been partially excavated.

“Their recommendation was to embrace 1A as their preferred alternative, but only in the sense of going after outside funding…we’re not putting funds towards it right now,” said interim borough manager Brad Ryan.

“We can’t embrace the $37 million project because we don’t have (the money)…It’s a very difficult place to be in because we have to look at what we’re going to do with Lutak,” Ryan said.

Engineers have said the dock, used for off-loading the town’s freight and fuel, is at the end of its lifespan, though it is not expected to “catastrophically fail.”

Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart said a revenue bond paid for by dock fees wouldn’t raise nearly enough money to pay for the project.

“The revenues generated from that project would have to be able to pay the maintenance and operations as well as (repayment of the bond). Unfortunately, at the current rates and the current use of the dock, it would only support $3 to $5 million worth of construction over a 20-year bond,” Stuart said.

Assembly member Heather Lende called the $37 million option “a pie in the sky.”

Ryan said $1.2 million from the Lutak Dock enterprise fund is included in the manager’s budget for a conceptual design, but he does not recommend spending it until funding comes through and “a solid plan is in place, until we thought we had something we agreed on going forward.”

Assembly member Tom Morphet said it was difficult to choose an option for the dock when the borough doesn’t know how long the decaying structure will last. “It’s hard for me to choose between options when we don’t know by when we need the money.”

Ryan responded by saying the $37 million option is there as “a planning amount” to help move funding forward.

With a few grant applications already submitted for the project, Ryan said the design options were left open in case the borough needed to choose a less expensive alternative. The firm’s least expensive option was one for $21.1 million.

“This is something that we have to have. It depends on the economy all throughout town. I feel a big sense of urgency that this is something we’re required to fix and we’ve got to figure out how,” Lende said.


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