Fisherman's Bend/Andrew's Marina offered to the city

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2010

Fisherman's Bend and Andrew's Marina is being offered to the City and Borough of Juneau at a bargain rate.

However, concerns about present and future costs of acquiring the property are likely to lead the Docks and Harbors Board to decline the purchase.

Rick Wolfenberger was at Thursday's harbors meeting to represent his parents Troy and Sharon Andrew. Wolfenberger said his parents would like to see the facility remain a marina, however his father is approaching 80 and is "done."

The Andrews are offering the marina to the city first for $4 million, significantly less than the assessed estimate.

Docks and Harbors board members heavily leaned toward a polite "thank you, but no," as member Tom Donek put it. However many wanted more in-depth information before issuing a final verdict.

Board chairman Jim Preston said Fisherman's Bend is not in any current comprehensive plan developed - and hasn't been in the eight years he's been on the board. Preston also said the marina has opportunity for growth.

Citizen Dennis Watson said he attended the city finance committee Wednesday and that Docks and Harbors could be in a good position to get a bond for this.

Watson was in favor of the purchase to get better facilities for people in Mendenhall Valley. He said the board may have a tough time of it, though, due to the department's reputation with having so many things to work on.

"I think in the long term it will probably benefit the community," Watson said.

Board Member Kevin Jardell said he pays moorage at that marina, but he couldn't see taking on responsibility for another old facility that also has deferred maintenance.

"I'm personally not in favor of moving forward on this at this time, unless someone can figure out where we can get the money," he said.

Donek had the same reaction, however he felt vetting it more to the public should happen first. He suggested the board ask the port director to see if there are funding avenues for this purchase and what exactly they would do with the property if they acquired it.

Board member Greg Busch asked what would happen if the private sector bought the marina and chose not to continue it as it currently operates. There are 205 boats at the marina presently.

"We're already looking at capacity issues," he said. "There would be additional moorage that would have to be planned for - additional development at Statter Harbor or elsewhere."

Board member Don Etheridge said his concern wasn't necessarily how they were going to make the purchase, but more on how they would find money for maintenance and increased staff that would be needed.

"How are we going to pay for it in the long run?" he asked. "We can't pay for the improvements. We can't take on DeHart's (Marina) at this time."

Assemblywoman Ruth Danner asked how much revenue Fisherman's Bend and Andrew's Marina brings in per year and wanted to know what harbor staff thought. Danner said her thoughts were in line with most of the board that felt this isn't the right time for such a project, however she wanted to know if benefits actually would out rank costs.

The board tabled the idea to its next meeting so more information and more feedback can be obtained.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a $20,000 contract with Northwind Architects for a direct market fisheries facility study.

It also will recommend to the assembly to approve the transfer of the Archie Van Winkle Memorial to the city. The memorial honors the only Alaskan to receive the Medal of Honor.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.



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