City plans to retool Amalga Harbor plan

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2008

Local divers and homeowners are worried about a proposed breakwater at Amalga Harbor.

The city docks and harbors manager, John Stone, said Thursday the project will probably change significantly now that he has heard their concerns. A public meeting was held Tuesday night at the Chapel by the Lake.

The city proposed the breakwater to protect its new boat and kayak launch ramp there from northerly winds and therefore extend its life.

The rubble-mound breakwater, in the proposed plan, would stretch across the north end of the harbor about 250 feet, rising 25 feet from the low-tide mark. It would run along a saddle of land leading out to a small island.

That saddle now protects the harbor, but only in milder weather. In the winter, north winds send rough waves into the harbor that rock the float up and down, accelerating its wear, according to Stone.

When the tide is midway or low, people can walk out on the saddle. At least one woman lives on the island at the end of it.

Divers can get dressed in the parking lot, walk out on the saddle and go diving in the bay, said Dave Mitchell, a commercial diver and owner of the Scuba Tank store.

"For shore diving, that's the best dive site in Juneau," he said.

The breakwater would eliminate that access, he said.

Stone said he hadn't known until the meeting how many divers used the area.

He said area homeowners at the meeting had aesthetic concerns about the breakwater. Some also were concerned that the mound could reduce water flushing into the harbor.

"It gives us a pretty good list of things to look at," Stone said of the meeting.

The project is still in early stages, Stone said. He is seeking more comments from local users.

Noting that city boat launch user fees have tripled in the last five years, Stone said the project was intended to save money. The city would have to pay 25 percent of the project, and the rest of the funding would come from federal grant money.

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