Statter Harbor boat launch moves forward

Public has until May 3 to comment

Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010

The draft environmental assessment for the project that will build a double-lane boat launch ramp at Don Statter Boat Harbor in Auke Bay is complete and open for public comment.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Docks and Harbors, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, prepared the assessment, which considers nine alternatives. Of those, seven were dismissed as either unfeasible or not meeting the project's intended need and purpose. Of the two remaining, one option is taking no action.

The option currently recommended includes:

• Constructing a two-lane boat launch and expanding parking to meet ADF&G Sport Fish design guidelines

• Constructing armored slopes and a marine seawall to retain 3.9 acres of intertidal fill

• Constructing a new access driveway from Glacier Highway

• Constructing a sea walk trail near Bay Creek

• Performing temporary repairs on DeHart's Marina float system

• Reconfiguring vehicle circulation, staging, and loading areas within the harbor

• Segregating boat launch and retrieval operations

• Relocating the existing shelter (near the Horton Lot) to create a scenic overlook

• Constructing a restroom

• Installing landscaped buffer areas near adjacent properties

Port Director John Stone said Statter Harbor is Juneau's most heavily used facility. In 2009, about 3,000 different boats used the Statter Harbor moorage floats, and Docks and Harbors sold about 1,750 launch ramp permits, he said. Between 35,000 and 40,000 people took tours out of the harbor.

Stone said public comment is an important part of the process, and federal managers will take it into consideration when deciding whether to approve the project. Public comment so far has primarily been, "Why are you not building it?" he said.

"Environmental permitting takes so long, people get worn out," he said. Voters first approved money for the improvements in 2005.

Docks and Harbors Chairman Jim Preston said the board is "excited about the possibilities we have there."

"Clearly the old DeHart's, something has to be done with that," he said.

The aspect of the project currently under review will cost around $10 million, Stone said. There's another $10 million of work remaining, including refurbishing the float system and replacing Deharts Marina "before it sinks."

Voters approved a total of $7.5 million. About $2.5 million could come from federal funding, $2.5 million from state matching grant money, and the rest is yet to be determined, Stone said.

After the public comment period, the project needs to go through three more permitting processes - the Army Corps of Engineers, the Alaska Coastal Management Program, and the city's conditional use permit review.

"We're hoping doing all this work up front resolves a lot of issues," Preston said.

He said they're hoping to have the project under construction by fall 2011.

A copy of the draft environmental assessment can be found at the project Web site on the documents page, or at the Juneau office of PND Engineers, Inc. Those wishing to comment on this project can contact Kate Mickelson, Staff Engineer, PND Engineers, Inc., 9360 Glacier Highway, Suite 100, Juneau, Alaska 99801, phone 907-586-2093, fax 907-586-2099, e-mail

Comments must be received by May 3.

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