The Haines Borough Planning Commission has already received a handful of written comments regarding its discussion next week of the 95-percent design documents for the Small Boat Harbor expansion project.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, to review and comment on the design. The commission may take public comment, though the design documents are listed as a discussion item, not a public hearing.

Critics of the expansion project continue to lobby the borough to take a step back before moving ahead with the current design and putting it out to bid.

The location of Lookout Park remains a concern, as under the current design, the park will be surrounded on three sides by a large gravel parking lot.

Evelyna Vignola, who submitted comments to the commission, called surrounding the park with a gravel lot “very poor judgment.”

“I’m not saying the lovely view won’t be seen or that anyone will consciously have to worry about getting hit by a car. I am saying the park will be used less because with such a drastic change in its surroundings it will be a much less pleasant place to stop,” Vignola wrote.

Though Lookout Park remains in the same spot in the current design documents, the plans do include some changes from the 65-percent design, including a shorter steel wave barrier and less dredging in the northern part of the harbor.

Critics continue to ask where the remaining $10 million will come from to pay for the harbor’s interior, as $20 million in hand will pay only for the wave barrier, dredging and parking lot work.

Gina St. Clair wrote the commission, reminding them that the expansion project was conceived in an era when oil prices weren’t dropping below $50 a barrel.

“Without the additional $10 million to finish the project, we will be stuck with a zero-income producing deep hole in the ocean, a high-maintenance steel wall out in the ocean, and an ugly, ugly parking lot,” St. Clair wrote. “As a taxpaying land owner, I do not want my property taxes raised to support this controversial project.”

Planning commissioner Heather Lende said she hopes staff will present some kind of plan or strategy for coming up with the $10 million to pay for the harbor’s interior slips and ramps at Thursday’s meeting.

“Say I was planning an addition on my house. And we did a bunch of plans and by the time I got them, if the plans weren’t something I could afford and not something I was sure I could complete, I would say, ‘Here is the money for your plans, but we need a Plan B, because I don’t want to have my whole house covered with Visqueen for the foreseeable future,” Lende said.

Debra Schnabel has submitted suggestions to the commissioners, including a diagram illustrating how several changes to the design could save $4 million and address some aesthetic concerns.

“I have only minimal hope that the Planning Commission feels empowered to assume control of this project, though I encourage it,” Schnabel wrote.

Submit comments to planning and zoning technician Tracy Cui at [email protected]. Comments will be forwarded to commissioners.