The Ketchikan City Council has a full plate for its regular meeting on Thursday, including several items related to port development, and a $5 million bond proposition to pay for new water lines on Schoenbar Road.
The council previously approved a first reading of an ordinance to move forward with a Request for Proposals for a private-public partnership in order to reconfigure the downtown cruise dock. On Thursday’s agenda is the second vote. If approved, the RFP will be issued.
In a special meeting last week, the council did not decide what kind of RFP to issue. One option is a concession agreement, which would place the financial burden of improvements on the private partner in return for a long-term lease. Another option is preferential berthing, which typically relies on the owner – the city, in this case – to fund structural changes to the facility in exchange for future guaranteed revenue.
City management and an outside consultant recommend a concession agreement. Council members are expected to make a decision on Thursday on that, as well as the scope of the expansion project.
The city has been looking into expanding the docks in response to larger cruise ships entering the Alaska market. The port currently can accommodate just one of the larger ships at a time.
The council also will discuss a separate proposal from Survey Point Holdings to reconfigure the downtown dock. That plan calls for the city to finance all improvements. Survey Point Holdings’ proposal would allow three mega-ships to be moored at Berths 1, 2 and 3 at the same time. The proposal estimates the construction cost at $20.5 million.
A consulting firm is reviewing the Survey Point Holdings plan, and will provide information to the council on Thursday. The Port and Harbors Advisory Board also will review the proposal and submit comments.
In an Aug. 6 memo, Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon says he believes the Survey Point cost estimate is low, and likely will exceed $30 million. He also expressed concern about part of the proposal that would extend Berth 1 in a way that could restrict some access to Thomas Basin.
Also Thursday, the council will consider a motion to place a $5 million bond proposition on the Oct. 1 ballot to pay for new water pipes on Schoenbar Road. Water mains in that area have failed recently. One created sinkholes and a temporary water shortage.
In other matters, an executive session is scheduled at the end of Thursday’s meeting for the council to discuss a proposal from Talbot’s Inc., to purchase the Talbot’s property next to Berth 4 for $3.5 million.
Thursday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. in city council chambers at City Hall. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.