During a short meeting Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agreed to allow a local tour company to build a trail on borough land, as long as the publicly-owned property remains open to the public.
The assembly voted unanimously in favor of a five-year permit for Alaska Bio-Tours Adventures to construct a trail on land next to the Pipeline Trail. The only easy-access point to the new trail will be a set of stairs that lead over the water pipe. Those stairs are owned by Ward Cove Group, which has given permission for the tour company to use them.
The public also can use the stairs, but only during Alaska Bio-Tours business hours. Company representative Rob Holston gave some clarification about when that will be. He said tour operators would open the gate to the stairs in the morning for the first tour of the day, and it would stay open until the end of the last tour.
“The dog walking community that uses that Pipeline Trail are for the most part very nice folks,” he said. “We just feel it should be secured at night so it doesn’t become a party hangout or something like that.”
The stairs most likely would not be open for public use outside of the summer tour season. Assembly Member Judith McQuerry asked about optional public access. She was told by Planner Richard Harney that there is no other developed access at this time, but people can get to it through borough land on the other side of the pipe.
“How far would someone have to bushwhack through borough property to get to this property?” McQuerry asked.
“Quite a ways,” Harney replied. “Unless there is a trail developed or some other access point developed to get to that trail.”
Other assembly members noted that this permit is a first step, and perhaps more development will follow to improve access.
In other matters, Assembly Member Stephen Bradford said farewell. He did not seek re-election this year, and Monday marked his last regular assembly meeting. Bradford praised his colleagues for their collegiality, even when they disagree.
“Far too often, you encounter people that if you disagree with them they assume you’re a bad guy and they don’t like you and they treat you that way,” he said. “That’s a shame because we’re all stuck on this island together. We need to be able to run into each other in the grocery store and be friendly and respectful to one another even though we may disagree on the issues.”
He and other assembly members urged the public to vote in Tuesday’s local election. A special assembly meeting is set for next Monday, to certify election results.