For boaters who use Douglas Harbor, parking and access improvements couldn't come sooner.
Errol Champion uses the harbor to put a 22-foot aluminum jet boat into the water and often finds parking in short supply.
"When you've got a trailer behind you, you don't have the ability to squeeze into tight spots. Parking is a critical matter in the Douglas Harbor," he said.
Penny Miller and her husband use the harbor's single-lane ramp nearly every weekend to take a river boat out to their cabin.
"The parking situation over there is horrible and the single ramp is just not adequate for the need that's there. I hope there will be some improvement," she said.
A new double-lane launch ramp should be complete by late November or early December, said City Port Director Joe Graham. The new launch area will be dredged to 6 feet below mean low tide and the existing ramp will remain in place to ease congestion, he said.
Construction crews are blasting rock at the Eaglecrest quarry and moving rock to build a containment wall. When complete, dredging will begin.
The project also includes a two-and-a-half-acre pad, now being filled, that will include parking for the ramp, harbor and ball field users. Spaces won't be marked until the material settles, but Graham said the pad will have room for 80 boat trailer spaces plus additional parking.
BOSS from Bellingham, Wash., is the contractor on the $5 million project. Funding comes from the harbors department, the 1998 voter-approved temporary sales tax increase for parks and recreation improvements, plus $400,000 from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The city continues to pursue funding for new permanent floats in the harbor. Temporary floats might be installed next spring, Graham said. Eventually, the city hopes to add another 60 slips for boats 30 to 70 feet long, although the final configuration has not been determined, he said. About 130 boats now moor at Douglas Harbor.
The city also is seeking funds to upgrade and expand Savikko Road next to the harbor and plans a public hearing this fall about parking and green space issues, Graham said.
The harbor is part of the Savikko Park recreation area, which includes four ballfields, tennis and basketball courts, two picnic shelters, a playground and Sandy Beach. A new enclosed ice rink, called Treadwell Arena, also is slated to be built in the park.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.