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

Planning commission reviews Portage Cove trail plans

Heinmiller addresses Parnell gripe


August 19, 2021

At a meeting last Thursday, the planning commission requested that engineers revise the Portage Cove Trail 95% plan so that the trail doesn’t cross private property or drop into the tidal zone. Commissioners also asked that the project include building a sidewalk along Front Street. A revised 95% plan will be discussed at the next commission meeting on Thursday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m.

The commission reviewed plans for a trail connecting Tlingit Park and the new harbor park pavilion. Commissioners requested that a 95% plan for both the trail and the Tlingit Park longhouse, which is under construction, be reviewed at the next meeting.

In other planning commission news, Roy Rountree of architecture and design firm Bettisworth North presented preliminary plans for a new public safety building. Eyes are set on a parcel adjacent to the site of the current public safety building. Rountree said the current site is within the maximum tsunami inundation zone. He also said soils on the adjacent lot, on the other side of Ed Shirley Drive, are more predictable.

Haines resident Debra Schnabel asked the commission to consider what the borough would do with the site of the current building. “In my opinion we are creating urban blight by moving the building,” she said.

Interim borough manager Alekka Fullerton said the borough is in “very, very preliminary discussions with SEARHC” about building a hospital on the lot where the public safety building now sits. The CVN reported those discussions in May.

Finally, commissioner Lee Heinmiller responded to a letter from Joe Parnell requesting that the planning commission “do something to prevent (the) continued demise” of three Fort Seward buildings, including Heinmiller’s house, owned by Port Chilkoot Company. Heinmiller also cited a letter to the editor by Parnell titled “It’s time to fix dilapidated Fort Seward,” published in the CVN on July 29.

“A lot of what he had to say is totally misinformed,” Heinmiller said. “I don’t know why he didn’t bother to come to me as the company president or the tenant in the building.

Heinmiller said the “restoration and rehabilitation costs of the barracks building is an astronomical figure,” but “we’ve been making some progress on that.”

Heinmiller said the Port Chilkoot Company is “in the middle of a project” with a private party to rehabilitate the hospital building. “The issue of that building is…in negotiation right now with someone interested in helping develop that building.”

Heinmiller added he’s “really hoping that Mr. Parnell’s comments both to the newspaper and in the planning commission packet” don’t affect negotiations with the developer.

Parnell might be “pushing his luck,” Heinmiller said, and a public defamation lawsuit could be in order if Parnell’s letters “reflect on” or “have any inference to” Heinmiller’s negotiations about restoring the hospital building.


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