Members of the public look at illustrations of how Ketchikan’s cruise docks might be expanded to accommodate larger ships. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

The Ketchikan City Council Thursday night approved two motions that would designate the city’s 5-percent special sales tax on marijuana for homeless services. Both items were added to the consent agenda and approved without discussion.

The first motion is an ordinance establishing a separate fund for marijuana tax proceeds. Currently, marijuana tax revenue goes directly into the general fund. Approved in first reading, that ordinance will come back for a second vote.

The second motion amends this year’s budget by adding marijuana tax proceeds to the city’s community agency grant program appropriations.

The city heard an update from Moffatt and Nichol representatives on plans to reconfigure the uplands portion of the downtown dock.  Scott Lagueux, director of waterfront planning, explained the purpose of the plan and designs.

“To provide more welcoming and exciting experience for guests, as well as to be able to accommodate larger numbers of guests and vehicles associated with any improvements that are made to the berths with the larger ships.”

Lagueux discussed plans for gathering spaces, signage and ground transportation for Berths 1 and 2. He says Berth 3 creates more challenges.

“Namely because we have a lot of different activities coming into a very small space. Those associated with the existing Berth 3, with tender operations, the waterfront promenade and individuals coming down past Sockeye Sam’s all into this common collection point.”

He says the primary way that congestion can be relieved is through modification of the Tongass Trading Company parking lot.  Currently there are 99 spaces on that lot. He discussed the proposal.

“…is to modify the parking lot bringing it down to 78 spaces, but increasing the stall size to 9’ by 18’, which is a larger standard. We believe that will give higher utility to all the parking spaces as (opposed) to just, potentially, some of the parking spaces. When you have large vehicles that are parking sometimes, it prevents you from using, effectively, all of the parking spaces that are there.

Lagueux says this season Moffat and Nichol plans to study parking lot use to have a better understanding of existing demand. Modification of sidewalks around Berth 3 also is proposed.

Improvements to Berth 4, which is privately owned, were also discussed. Council member Dick Coose expressed concern about the possible need to purchase nearby private property to facilitate improvements.

“Because we’re not in the mode of purchasing private property, taking it off the rolls, and if we even mention it, all of the sudden the value goes up. And right now we don’t need it. So I don’t think we should be referencing it in the report at all.”   

Coose proposed a motion to remove improvements on private property near Berth 4 from the plan. The motion passed 6-1 with council member Janalee Gage voting against.

Also on Thursday, the council voted unanimously in favor of halting efforts to sell Ketchikan Public Utilities’ Telecommunications Division. The city hired Falkenberg Capital Corp. in 2008 to help sell that arm of KPU. Over the past decade, no potential buyer has been found.  City Mayor Lew Williams III commented before the vote.

“We went out and looked for possibilities. The direction of the council is to continue with operating the telecommunications and going forward and we’re not looking to do any sales.”

In other business, the council voted 4-3 to protest the renewal of the Creek Street Cabaret liquor license, with council members Gage, Dave Kiffer and Judy Zenge voting against the protest. The council discussed the possibility of withdrawing the protest if outstanding taxes are paid.

The next regular meeting of the Ketchikan City Council is Thursday, May 3rd.