City cautious on Fisherman's Bend/Andrew's Marina

Posted: Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Assembly is reluctant to give approval to Docks and Harbors to purchase Fisherman's Bend/Andrew's Marina.

Docks and Harbors gets the chance to buy those facilities from the Andrew's family for $4 million. The board met last week and was hesitant to move forward with the offer. The consensus was to get more public input and see what the value would be in buying.

The Assembly, sitting as the Committee of the Whole, and Docks and Harbors held a joint meeting Wednesday night to discuss harbor updates.

Harbors board chairman Jim Preston asked for the Assembly's input on the marina sale.

"One of the things I remember when we bought DeHarts, when the board was discussing this 4-5 years ago, the old timers were saying we should have bought it when we had the chance. Over and over they all said that. ... It caused me to think, well what if we could buy Fisherman's Bend and somehow be able to keep that as a marina or marina-type facility instead of having it become developed into a condominium-type project?"

Board member Kevin Jardell asked what would happen if they didn't buy it. He said citizens want more space at Auke Bay than currently exists. If they did buy Fisherman's Bend there is some room for expansion. If they don't buy Fisherman's Bend, they lose not only that opportunity, but they also run the risk of having that facility close entirely - leaving 200-some boats to have to find moorage elsewhere when city docks are already facing capacity issues.

The estimated $300,000 revenues at Fisherman's Bend would cover operational costs, however needed upgrades would need further funds.

Prior to the purchase discussion, Port Director John Stone updated the Assembly on current projects: Statter Harbor/DeHarts Marina, Douglas Harbor, Aurora Harbor and the Downtown Cruise Ship Dock rebuild.

Statter Harbor estimates aren't certain as the DeHart's and whale-watching launch concepts haven't been fully formalized into a plan. A public meeting is slated next week for harbor patrons on the current concept. The parking and boat launch portion is currently undergoing it's environmental assessment.

Douglas Harbor is facing regulatory setbacks due to mercury contamination processes and will need another $1 million to $2 million to finish. Douglas Harbor is on hold until the mercury disposal alternatives have been sorted and approved by regulatory agencies.

Aurora Harbor has two critical floats that need to be addressed as soon as possible, or the floats will have to be shut down due to safety concerns. That project will take an estimated $18 million, however funding sources haven't been ironed out. Stone estimates half can be obtained through grants while the other half would be from the general fund.

With those projects and the critical status of so many harbor structures and lack of funding, both the Docks and Harbors board and Assembly are cautious to take on another property that will require not only costly repairs, but more harbor staff.

Assemblyman Jonathan Anderson said he was reluctant because he didn't necessarily see the virtue in pulling the property off the tax rolls because he didn't see a large public benefit.

Assemblyman Merrill Sanford said he didn't think the property purchase was a good or bad idea, but moreso that the Docks and Harbors department is already too strapped. He said with DeHarts, it was obvious in city planning that purchasing DeHart's would give way to a better layout of that area. Sanford didn't see the same kind of benefit out of Fisherman's Bend.

Assemblyman Bob Doll said when most people look seriously at marina-based business and boating, they look at Statter Harbor. He said he felt the board should focus on Statter.

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



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