Private property near the Spaulding Beach Condominiums in Auke Bay is the new preferred site for a city-run commercial boat loading dock.
The city's Docks and Harbors Board on Thursday directed staff to start negotiations to buy property owned by Eric Lindegaard at the outer entrance to Statter Harbor in Auke Bay. At the same time, members will continue to talk with private businesses in Auke Bay about space for a dock, board Chairman Dick Knapp said.
Voters last fall approved $3.5 million in bond funding for the project, which is aimed at accommodating landing craft, commercial fishing boats and charter vessels. The goal is to reduce parking lot congestion, improve boat launch access, and ease moorage demand at Statter Harbor, according to the city.
The project also is viewed as a way to boost economic development and raw-fish tax receipts to the city, Knapp said.
Earlier plans would have put the loading facility on city-owned property at Stabler's Point, east of the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal. But site surveys showed that the sea floor slopes steeply into deep water, making upland development expensive and difficult. Wind and wake-generated waves also are a problem, engineering documents showed.
"That caused us to look at other potential sites," harbor board member Budd Simpson said. "The Lindegaard property has plenty of uplands and is a much cheaper property compared to adding bulkheads and piling to Stabler's Point."
The Lindegaard property is zoned for residential use, though the city's comprehensive plan supports waterfront development there, according to the city.
It would have cost $12 million to make a commercial dock and loading area at Stabler's Point usable, harbor board member Jim Preston said.
It might cost $1 million to $1.5 million to buy the Lindegaard property, leaving funds in the budget for a basic drive-down float and bridge system, board members said.
"The proposal to negotiate with Lindegaard would allow us to pick up the property and have enough money to start construction," harbor board member Don Etheridge said.
Preliminary city budget information put the total cost of a loading facility at the Lindegaard property at $4.4 million to $8.4 million, excluding land acquisition.
Board members also considered putting the new loading facility on city, state and private land at inner Statter Harbor, but decided it would increase congestion, not reduce it, Etheridge said.
The harbor board hasn't ruled out other options.
Alaska Glacier Seafoods, which is building a fish-processing plant west of the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on the banks of Auke Bay Cove, could give the city a right of way to build a drive-down floating dock and crane for fishermen, company President Mike Erickson said.
In addition, Southeast Alaska Lighterage runs a dock near the ferry terminal that is used by ferries going to the Greens Creek mine, commercial fishing boats and landing craft, company owner John Gitkov said. The facility has room for more vessels, especially because Wards Cove Packing Co. isn't operating this year, and Gitkov said he is willing to work with the city.
Preston said harbor board members liked the Lindegaard property because it is big enough to separate conflicting commercial users.
"When you start to look at multiple users, one group will become dominant," he said. "You can't have commercial fishing boats next to people in high heels off a cruise ship who are there to do whale watching."
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.