DeHart's replacement takes step forward

Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011

Replacement of DeHart’s Marina’s floats took a step forward at Thursday’s Docks and Harbors board meeting.

MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn
MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn

Board chairman Jim Preston talked to the roughly 10 people interested in DeHart’s during the meeting, asking the board to move forward with DeHart’s as key pieces of the Auke Bay master plan have come into place.

Discussion on the topic was put on the agenda amid concerns about what will happen to DeHart’s patrons.

“The Auke Bay master plan, which was adopted by the Assembly, included the purchase of the DeHart’s Marina by CBJ and as part of the parcel of that purchase was the intent the marina at some point would be displaced and replaced by a marine passenger facility and moorage would be built at Statter Harbor,” Preston said. “Five hundred thousand dollars were issued from marine passenger fees at that time as part of the payment — that was the justification part of the marine passenger facility.”

Preston said people are blowing a memo from port director John Stone out of proportion, in which Stone was to hold a public meeting for DeHart’s patrons if the marina were torn down by Nov. 2011. The board, Preston said, has never had and has no intention of approving Stone’s demolition recommendation for November.

“It is time to start talking about what we’re going to do to DeHart’s,” Preston said. “What Mr. Stone said in the memo was ‘if this happens we need to have some kind of contingency.’ Some folks have taken that ‘what if’ scenario to gospel. The board hasn’t voted to dismantle by 2011. We have never said that.”

Preston said the last few pieces of the Auke Bay plan have come into place this summer — with the purchase of a connecting property and finalizing the Environmental Assessment. He said they should be getting the final assessment soon, and permitting will follow.

“I think it’s very appropriate for us now, since we’re starting to get some of the other pieces — the design for Statter Harbor, approval of the deferred maintenance project, we’re getting ready for launch ramp facility, we’ve got land pieces in place — now time for us to figure out how we’re going to (do DeHart’s),” Preston said. “... That was part of the CIP wish list, let’s get $6 million to do everything we want to do. It’s time to move on to actually making a decision about the moorage.”

Preston said he’s read through the e-mails with concerns about the marina, and he believes the biggest concern is really about what will happen to its patrons.

“There’s not a single person on this board that isn’t acutely aware of that. It is definitely a concern and no one has taken it lightly,” Preston said. “I think we need to lay some of this stuff to rest. You’re going to be taken care of. We have a history of taking care of our patrons.”

Preston pointed to the Douglas Harbor and Harris Harbor rebuilds, saying every patron was taken care of. The same will happen for DeHart’s patrons.

Preston recommended the board do two things Thursday night: rescind the months-earlier motion to have Stone hold a public meeting in case DeHart’s is torn down in 2011, and send the DeHart’s replacement to the Docks and Harbors capital improvement committee to start working on details. The board unanimously approved rescinding the motion and pledged to strive for an orderly transfer of slip spaces from DeHart’s to Statter Harbor.

“I went out there Sunday to walk the DeHart’s docks,” said board member Jardell. “We’re trying to keep it open. It has to be taken care of. We have got to have the money to do that. It’s in bad shape and there are safety issues. The need is there.”

Board member Busch also agreed with sending it to the Juneau Capital Improvement Plan Committee so the panel can identify funding sources to complete the project.

Rick Currier, a DeHart’s patron, suggested they have some kind of temporary moorage out in Auke Bay for the DeHart’s patrons during construction.

“Don’t forget about us at DeHart’s,” he said.

Andrew Maples, another DeHart’s patron, said his biggest concern is continuity of service.

“DeHart’s is obviously on the down-and-outs physically,” he said. “We’ve been told the electrical problems are not going to be dealt with. The big issue to most people, let’s have continuity of service. Let’s not lose slips in this whole process.”

In other business, the board reviewed the FY 2012 Capital Improvement Project list to be sent to the Assembly.

Projects include:

• A marine passenger fee request for the city cruise ship dock replacement project. The city approved project 16B last year — which sets two of the cruise docks back on floating berths. The actual dollar figure requested for this project will be submitted in March.

• A funding request for the Statter Harbor Passenger for Hire Facility. Docks and Harbors is asking for $2.2 million. The total project cost is estimated at $4.8 million so the other half would be requested the following year.

• Aurora Harbor replacement phase one, which will replace the dilapidated moorage float system at the harbor. Docks and Harbors is asking for Alaska Municipal Matching Grant funds from the Alaska Legislature for $2 million, $500,000 from local marine passenger fees and $1.5 million in Harbors enterprise funds. The department would still need $14 million.

• Statter Harbor rehabilitation and DeHart’s Marina float replacement for $6 million in legislative grant funds.

• Douglas Harbor dredge spoil disposal as part of the harbor project for $2 million in state matching funds and $4 million in Harbors enterprise funds. The department would still need $2 million.

DeHart’s patron Dennis Watson suggested the board ask the city for funds in smaller breakdowns. He said they aren’t likely to complete a project in a single year and other city departments ask for what they’d use in a year. Watson also suggested they take a step back from Douglas Harbor.

“I think at some point in time you’ve got to call it what it is,” he said. “It’s a project that continues to suck up a lot of money. You’ve got to look at a different solution. I’m not saying to kill it.”

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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