Busy waterfront

Ketchikan’s busy waterfront. (KRBD file photo)

The Ketchikan City Council moved quickly through the short list of action items on Thursday’s agenda, and likely would have been done with the meeting in less than 30 minutes, except a new issue was brought to the Council’s attention by several citizens.

Amanda Painter, who works with Allen Marine Tours, says Berth 4 was damaged during a big windstorm in April, and that damage is causing problems for tour operators.

She says that, more specifically, storm surge damaged the southern tender floats, which Allen Marine uses to provide service for passengers on cruise ships docked at Berth 4. She says now, the company has to walk customers to the neighboring Berth 3.

“That walk at a slow pace is 10 minutes and 44 seconds,” she said. “That contributes to untimely departures. And if you know the tour industry, you know it’s important that we depart on time, and that we get them back exactly when we say we’re going to get them back. Because, they might have other plans for the rest of the day while they’re here.”

Mike Holman and Pete Arntzen, who both work in the charter fishing business, also asked the Council to find a solution to the Berth 4 issue.

Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon told the Council that his office has been working on solutions, but one issue is that private operator Survey Point Holdings has a lease agreement with the city to operate Berth 4. Corporon says he looked at the lease agreement, and he doesn’t believe the city has any financial obligation to repair the damage

Survey Point also holds the Army Corps of Engineers permit for the floats. Corporon says the company is working with the Corps to use a different tender float temporarily, while plans move forward to fix the damage.

City Mayor Lew Williams III asked that an update, and possibly something the Council can take action on, be prepared for the next meeting.

“It is time sensitive,” he said.

“I realize that,” Corporon responded. “It’s not like I’ve been sitting around on my butt. People have been saying that we’re not doing anything. We’ve been trying to work this thing behind the scenes, trying to get something worked out. I’ve also been trying to swing a deal where we can get a three-year-old 168-foot float from the Coast Guard, that’s being pulled out of the Coast Guard base.”

Williams recommended giving the lease agreement to the city attorney, to make sure the city isn’t financially liable, and asked Corporon to keep the Council updated on any developments.

Also Thursday, the Council approved a $500 grant to St. John’s Episcopal Church to help with costs related to the church’s public bathrooms; and two resolutions approving two applications to the state for $1 million each for help with water, wastewater and storm pipe repairs.

The next Ketchikan City Council meeting is July 16.