A 1.3-mile path along downtown Ketchikan’s waterfront has been slowly taking shape over many years. A couple more sections of the promenade still need to be completed, and even after the pathway itself is done, work will continue to turn it into a useful downtown feature.
Historic Ketchikan is spearheading the planning efforts for the promenade, and officials gave an update during a public meeting last week.
Historic Ketchikan Executive Director Stephen Reeve said Ketchikan’s waterfront is amazing, and has great potential to improve the economics of the town by attracting visitors and local residents to the core area.
To do that, though, he said the city needs to pay attention to how the walkway connects to the community.
“We need to connect it to the neighborhoods it abuts,” he said. “It’s not well connected to Newtown. We made some improvements to the original sea walk, but there needs to be very clear connections both for visitors to get over into the retail and historic area of Newtown, but vice versa. We want people who live and work in Newtown to feel it’s their waterfront. We need to make connections both ways.”
Newtown is the area just north of the downtown tunnel, where Front Street turns into Water Street. A walkway leads from the port’s Berth IV in Newtown toward Berths II and I. There are somewhat limited access points from the promenade into Newtown, and there have been complaints from Water Street business owners.
Reeve said the long-term vision for the waterfront walk includes more artwork along the path, the use of wood wherever possible, maintaining the working waterfront, and small pocket parks with children’s play areas. One suggestion is to renovate the wooden City Float park into a small playground, and adding another play area behind the Salvation Army in Thomas Basin.
Historic Ketchikan Board Member Terry Wanzer reminded those attending the meeting that they’ll have to be patient while these plans are developed and implemented.
“This project has been going on for a long, long time,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with having the availability of the CPV funds to do a lot of this project. I think it’s a real benefit for Ketchikan. But it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes a while. It takes a long time.”
The CPV, or cruise passenger vessel, funds are the city’s share of the state’s cruise ship head tax. Those funds must be spent on projects that directly benefit, or can clearly be linked to cruise passengers.
More information about the waterfront walk project can be found on the Historic Ketchikan website http://www.historicketchikan.org/