The City of Ketchikan’s planning process for how to reconfigure the downtown port and make other improvements within the city was a topic of discussion during Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council meeting.
It wasn’t on the agenda, but Assistant City Manager Lacey Simpson brought up the topic. She asked for direction from the council about any work sessions members wanted following a recent presentation and public input meeting about the port. Simpson said a representative from consulting firm Bermello, Ajamil and Partners could be in Ketchikan Aug. 6th.
That consulting firm is working with the city to develop a request for proposals, seeking a private-industry partner to fund port development.
Several council members said they wanted a meeting with just the council, to talk about what they wanted to see in an RFP. Council Member Mark Flora said the message he has received from non-tourism-industry residents is that they have been left out of any benefits from the cruise ships.
“I would like to have a meeting at the first available opportunity where the city council can discuss what it is that we’re going to ask in this RFP to benefit the community that is – I don’t know what to call it – the non-tourism side of the ledger,” he said.
Council Member Lew Williams III agreed. He said the council also should have a meeting with Survey Point Holdings, a local group that has made a separate proposal to improve Berths 1 and 2.
With that proposal, the city would have to come up with the funding. The RFP process is meant to minimize or eliminate city funding for port improvements.
Council Member Dave Kiffer also agreed with the need for a special meeting. He was concerned, though, that the council would not have an opportunity to get anything accomplished. He said the council already has had two special meeting on the topic.
“We’ve heard about six hours’ worth of public comments. I’m not going to sit here and say we’ve heard everything there is to hear, but I want to make sure we structure it in a way that actually gives us time to go over the issue,” he said. “It should not just be simply another meeting where we sit and listen to public comments for three hours.”
The council agreed to schedule a special meeting for a discussion about the port for July 24. Another special meeting to talk about the port with a representative from Bermello, Ajamil and Partners will take place on Aug. 6th.
The council will discuss the Survey Point Holdings plan with representatives of that business during one of its regular meetings in August.
During public comment, local attorney Stephen Bradford spoke on behalf of Ward Cove Group. That business is developing a private cruise ship dock in Ward Cove, in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines and Fairbanks-based Godspeed, Inc.
Bradford said they are planning an open house in the next few weeks to provide information to the public about the development.
“We think it’s going to be a real good project and a real benefit to Ketchikan and the surrounding community and area, and we look forward to getting that information out there,” he said. “We know there are questions about the sand cap, environmental issues, transportation impact, and we want to get those dealt with, we want to answer those questions, we want to get a lot of information out there.”
A sand cap was placed on the bottom of Ward Cove after Ketchikan Pulp Co. left to cover up wood waste from mill operations. There has been concern about large cruise ships disturbing the cap.
Bradford said they are working on finalizing a date for the open house, and should know by Monday.
Also Thursday, the council approved a resolution urging the State of Alaska to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 19 to 21. It passed 6-1 with Williams voting no.
In other matters, during council comments, Council Member Judy Zenge said the city needs to do a better job enforcing ordinances. She suggested that the city hire code enforcement officers.
“People that all they do is write tickets, and all they do is go around and look for this stuff. Because I think as long as we’re putting these ordinances out there and not doing anything to enforce them, we’re wasting our bloody time,” she said. “And we don’t wanna be calling the cops because somebody has a sandwich board sign on the side…, to me that’s ludicrous, but we do need to have some way to make people obey these ordinances.”
The council also met Wednesday night in special session to hear a presentation about the city’s compensation plan update, done by consultants Ralph Andersen and Associates.
The council made no decisions on Wednesday. The plan update will be revised based on comments from employees, and will come back to the council.
Another special meeting to talk about the compensation plan will be scheduled for Aug. 21 or 22.