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Portage Cove trail may cost $6 million


A waterfront trail stretching from Picture Point to the Portage Cove state campground and a rebuilt Lookout Park will cost an estimated $5.9 million, an engineer affiliated with the project said at a community planning meeting last week.

Dick Somerville of PND Engineers presented itemized cost estimates for the 1.5-mile trail, splitting it into six sections. He also provided cost estimates for the relocated Lookout Park, to be called Harbor Park.

PND Engineers was added as a consultant on the project and often works with Corvus Design.

The second round of community meetings on the Portage Cove Interpretive Trail and Park March 13 and 15 included ideas for trimming costs. The meetings attracted residents who had missed the first round of meetings a month ago. Participants expressed ideas that differed from ones previously voiced.

Borough planning commission chair Rob Goldberg suggested changing a concrete path to grass or gravel.Assembly member Heather Lende suggested a bike trail along the road to Portage Cove campground instead of a full sidewalk. That segment of trail would be the second most expensive at $825,413.

One highly popular trail segment at the January meetings was a section of trail on top of the existing rubble mound breakwater and the steel breakwater addition. Somerville priced that at about $2.1 million, the most expensive part of the design.

In response to cost concerns, interim manager Brad Ryan said, “I’ve always seen this as a phased project. I see a lot of potential in things happening here.”

The purpose of the March 13 meeting was to review and share public input on Corvus’ completed work based on community meetings in January, to look at possible park layouts and interpretive sign themes, and to begin discussion of costs.

One proposed section of elevated trail to connect the new park location on the south side of the uplands parking lot with another segment of trail heading toward Port Chilkoot dock was contentious among some community members.

“I think it’s expensive, unnecessary and might be a visual barrier,” said Rich Chapell, who served on a steering group for the borough on the project.

But most people who attended the first round of meetings seemed to like the elevated section.

The elevated portion would be the most expensive type of trail due to the need for an underwater piling and costly railings.

Chris Mertl of Corvus removed the section from the plan he presented at Wednesday’s meeting, replacing it with a staircase and access ramp to a beach trail.

Also discussed March 13 were three basic design “themes,” hazards of walking near the harbor parking lot, accessibility for disabled people, four park design options, and park fixtures. About 10 people who attended voted on their preferred park design, park fixtures and interpretive sign theme.

Meeting participants favored the least expensive park design, which would cost approximately $819,000. The park could include a “decorative concrete plaza,” a 20-by-40-foot covered shelter, stairs and an ADA-accessible ramp to the beach, a new memorial wall, landscaping and lighting.

“We got slightly different input, but we’ll make it work,” Mertl said. “We’re setting up the skeleton.”

About 25 people showed up at the March 15 meeting, the last of four for public input on the conceptual design.

Assemblyman Tresham Gregg said he didn’t understand why the firm and community were considering tearing down and relocating the current Lookout Park.

“I know the prevailing thought is to take it down and throw it away, but I think it’s a mistake,” Gregg said.

Resident Dave Long agreed, saying he wasn’t sure if the community was given the option to keep Lookout Park.

Mertl contended: “It’s a really goofy structure,” he said, that provides cover for ramps and staircases instead of usable space. Lookout Park is in middle of an area that will become an expanded harbor parking lot.

“With every plan, there’s compromise and consensus,” Mertl said. In the conceptual phase, he said “you can’t get caught up in the weeds and the details.”

Mertl said in the next month he and Somerville will edit and finalize the plans for internal review by the borough. The conceptual design will then go to the assembly.

Somerville said the project will go through at least three more design refinements at 35, 65 and 95 percent construction, with public hearings at the planning commission level for each.

The designs will essentially become an implementation plan for the borough to pursue funding for the project.


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