The City of Ketchikan is looking for a new operator to run the Deer Mountain Hatchery.
The Ketchikan City Council voted 6-1 Monday to advertise for proposals, with Council Member Marty West voting no. West indicated that she wants the facility to continue to operate as a hatchery if possible, but she would like the city to talk with officials at the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association before seeking proposals.
SSRAA runs numerous salmon hatcheries in the region.
One person addressed the issue during public comment. Terry Leberman stressed the need to maintain the hatchery, to keep fish running in the creek.
“If you can use the Cruise Passenger Vessel funds at all toward this for one year or a couple years, so be it,” he said. “But I think the salmon in that creek is the best marketing and promotional tool we’ve got for the salmon industry and the tourists. They love to go over there and see the live fish. I think it’s a fantastic thing. It’s an asset to the community and I don’t want to see us lose it.”
Leberman asked the Council to work with SSRAA to stock the creek this year, in order to keep an uninterrupted supply.
West pointed out later in the meeting that there is a natural salmon run in Ketchikan Creek, so even without the hatchery’s contribution, fish would be returning.
Until recently, Ketchikan Indian Community operated the hatchery for many years, but tribal officials say it’s been losing money for the past few seasons. The property was deeded to KIC with the stipulation that it be used as a hatchery.
The tribe recently asked the city to remove that requirement, so that KIC could change the business plan, but city officials were reluctant. The city had offered financial help, but KIC officials opted to close the facility.
Also Monday, the Council took no action on a proposal to reduce the speed limit on the Third Avenue Bypass. Council Member Sam Bergeron submitted the proposal. He said the nature of the neighborhood has changed.
“The whole area has changed usage,” he said. “Formerly there was a rock pit and big trucks, but that’s not happening anymore. There’s commercial, there’s a library there and a Head Start, and there’s a lot of young kids in that neighborhood and we should do something to protect them.”
An option he suggested is for the city to install digital signs that show drivers their speed. Public Works Director Clif Allen said those can cost between $4,000 and $20,000. The Council asked city staff to come back with suggestions.
Monday’s Council meeting was scheduled to replace the regular first meeting of the month, which fell on the Fourth of July. The next regular Ketchikan City Council meeting is July 18.