KETCHIKAN - Ketchikan is moving closer to building a new cruise ship dock to be ready for the 2007 cruise ship season.
The city council on Tuesday approved further negotiations to have a private company design and build the dock, which would be built north of the downtown tunnel.
The council voted 5-1 to approve a nonbinding memorandum of agreement with Survey Point Holdings. Council Member Tom Coyne voted against the measure. Council Member Jason Harris abstained, citing a conflict of interest. His in-laws own Waterfront Storage and would be affected by the development.
The city and Survey Point Holdings now will start negotiations toward developing a definitive agreement by March 1.
The memorandum indicates that Survey Point Holdings and as-yet-unnamed cruise industry partners would form a new company, Ketchikan Dock Co., to design and build the new dock and make related improvements.
The City Council approved one change in the memorandum, voting to delete any references to the potential use of eminent domain by the city. City Mayor Bob Weinstein said several people had expressed concern about the eminent domain issue.
The city would lease the dock for 30 years, paying with revenues from the city's Port Enterprise Fund, which would include the per-passenger moorage fees paid by cruise ships visiting Ketchikan.
The memorandum also refers to the city's continuing work toward a project to expand an existing berth so that three 1,000-foot ships can be accommodated downtown at once. The project includes a ground transportation area, a waterfront promenade and a reconfiguration of the Casey Moran Float.
About 30 people attended the council's special meeting. Len Laurance, who's long been involved with various aspects of the local tourism industry, spoke in favor of the agreement. He said that 2006 will be a challenging year for Ketchikan businesses because cruise ships are expected to bring 100,000 fewer passengers to the city this year.