The Ketchikan City Council talked Thursday about proposed development of the Port of Ketchikan, including a plan to reduce the number of parking spaces in the Tongass Trading Co. lot.
The development is in anticipation of larger cruise ships bringing more people during Ketchikan’s busy summer tourism season. More tourists means more space is needed for buses and pedestrians.
Representatives from consulting firm Moffatt & Nichol presented their development plans to the council, and talked about the input they had received from public meetings on Wednesday.
Scott Lagueux told the council that there was an audible gasp when he told people during those meetings that the plan would reduce parking in the Tongass lot from 99 spaces to 51. But, he said there’s mixed information about how well utilized that parking lot really is.
“My experience was a week of really detailed watching, and I never saw it full,” he said. “Others had indicated, that spend a lot of time on the docks and again I don’t see it during the summer full all the time, but there were others in the audience who took issue and said no, absolutely, it is full.”
Council Member Dave Kiffer said he has not seen the lot completely full, even in the summer, and City Manager Karl Amylon agreed.
Lagueux suggested installing a camera to record the parking lot’s use throughout the upcoming summer season.
Amylon noted that the parking lot was built as a Local Improvement District project, and could be under some restrictions. It’s possible, he said, that the city will not be allowed to reduce parking spaces there.
“So I don’t want anybody thinking well, it’s not utilized, we can reduce the number of spaces,” he said. “That’s an issue we still have to look at and see what options, if any, we have.”
Amylon told the council that he was meeting Friday with representatives from Alaska Cruise Lines International Association. He said he’ll present what the city has come up with so far and get feedback from CLIA on the port plans.
Port development will be paid for through cruise head tax fees. Any funds from those fees are supposed to be used for projects that benefit cruise passengers. CLIA has sued the City and Borough of Juneau over its use of port fees.
Also on Thursday, the council held two executive sessions to discuss the annual evaluation of the city manager and city clerk. Following the sessions, the council voted unanimously to give raises to each.
Amylon’s salary will increase 3.1 percent, a raise of about $6,000.
City Clerk Katy Suiter’s salary will increase by $10,000.