The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee brainstormed ideas to make beach bonfires safer, backtracking on an earlier position to leave development of Chilkat River beaches alone.

Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer said about six months ago, the committee took no action on her request for a better fire area on the beach along Mud Bay Road.

“We were trying to discourage all fires,” said committee member Lori Lapeyri Smith. “We have morphed into ‘They’re going to have a fire, let’s provide a three-foot fire ring,’ and now we’re saying we want a bigger ring to accommodate pallets, so we are kind of all over the place.”

Friedenauer said committee chair Rich Chapell told her at the time that local landowners wanted to keep the beach in a natural state.

But Haines resident Jonathan Richardson shared his concern again at Monday’s meeting about pallets that were dumped, possibly by teenagers, near Carr’s Cove for beach fires.

Because there is no fire ring in the area, pallets that are not broken down could violate borough code that states fires can only be three feet in diameter on borough property without a permit.

“I think any fire uncontained is very dangerous,” said Carr’s Cove property owner Norman Hughes. “It wouldn’t take much for a north wind to take that fire up and over the top to Mount Riley.” He added that pallets also could be considered garbage under a borough trash ordinance.

Committee members considered asking police to monitor for pallets left there, but Carr’s Cove is just beyond the townsite area. Local police currently respond only to emergencies outside the townsite.

Committee member Thom Ely said if officers patrol the Small Tracts and Mud Bay Road loop, they should check in on high school parties at Carr’s Cove on the weekends.

“The borough can only respond to a fire or underage drinking, any other activity is personal opinion,” Hughes said.

The committee voted 6-1 to recommend the manager look into pallet fires at Carr’s Cove. New committee member Zack Ferrin was opposed.

“Just to have (police) go out there and check every Friday and Saturday to see if kids are being kids…it’s not what the cops do,” Ferrin said.

More public comment at the end of the meeting sparked ideas about installing CAT tracks or culverts from the ongoing harbor project as fire rings at Carr’s Cove and another spot along the beach on Mud Bay Road just before the cove.

“I don’t want to encourage a lot of development on the beach, but if people are having fires already… I’m glad that they’re revisiting the idea,” Friedenauer said.