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

Lot design advances


November 30, 2017 | View PDF

The Haines Borough Assembly narrowly approved the Portage Cove boat launch and parking lot design concept after a continuing debate about the safety of a pathway.

The assembly voted in October to oppose a trail that leads across the sport boat ramp.

Since then the port and harbor advisory committee, the planning commission and the parks and recreation advisory committee all approved the concept design.

Assembly member Tom Morphet said he was “profoundly disturbed” that the committees didn’t consider assembly members’ safety concerns. He said having a pathway from a park to a restroom that crosses an area where traffic is backing up is the “apex of illogic.”

Mayor Jan Hill said the assembly’s concerns were heard, but “the committees didn’t agree with them.”

In response to the assembly’s initial opposition in October, PND Engineers changed what was originally titled a “sea-walk” trail idea into a sidewalk. PND Design Engineer Brandon Ivanowicz addressed the issue during the design’s third community meeting in early November.

“Looking at this, we still need to provide a safe pedestrian route,” Ivanowicz said. “We’re not going to call it a sea walk but we still need this designated pathway for pedestrians to walk that’s similar to the side of the road. We have to get people out of the parking area and give them a safe place to walk and this is the way to do it.”

Jerry Ballanco first criticized the pathway’s safety and voiced his concerns during several public meetings. As a doctor, he said he dealt with a child who had to have her leg amputated after being struck by a vehicle backing down a boat ramp.

Assembly member Sean Maidy said Ballanco’s experience is concerning, but anecdotal. He said he found only one account, Ballanco’s, when he researched similar accidents across the country and that people are more likely to be injured in the entrance to a parking lot.

Planning commission members Jeremy Stephens and Donnie Turner urged the assembly to approve the design concept during public comment. Turner said while some assembly members disliked the parking plan, it had gone through an “exhaustive public process.”

“I would hope that you would take (away) your personal bias and follow the public process,” Turner said.

Assembly member Brenda Josephson cited the numerous public meetings and said she wanted the assembly “to respect that process.”

Assembly member Tresham Gregg said the approval of the design concept should be postponed to allow even more public input.

The assembly voted 3-3 to approve the design, with Gregg, Morphet and Heather Lende in opposition. Hill broke the tie to approve the design concept.

PND Engineers will now work to further refine the design.


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