Ketchikan’s city council Thursday hired the Juneau-based McDowell Group to study the potential impacts of a private mega cruise ship dock north of downtown.

Private developers plan to build a two-berth dock at Ward Cove, near the site of the former pulp mill. The Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the project and expects to come to a decision on whether to hold a public hearing about the project by October 19.

Assistant City Manager Lacey Simpson told KRBD the study would estimate the direct effects of the new dock — that is, how many passengers it’s expected to draw away from the city’s downtown dock. It will also consider lost head tax and dockage fee revenue.

“But also, more importantly and harder to quantify, is if those folks are no longer calling at Ketchikan, and are perhaps not transiting into downtown Ketchikan, what is the impact to sales tax revenues, what is the impact to local businesses in the downtown core,” Simpson said.

Council member Dick Coose spoke in favor of the study.

“I support this. I think that in the long run, this is going to give us some information that we need to make some decisions as we go along,” Coose said.

The council decided unanimously to move forward with it. Two members — Dave Kiffer and Sam Bergeron — were absent.

The council also unanimously resolved to ask the state for $850,000 in grant funding for a new domestic violence shelter. The new facility would be housed in the former Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility after significant renovations. 

Agnes Moran leads Women in Safe Homes, or WISH, and she says the current shelter just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s three stories and located on a steep hill.

“And as the Boomer generation is aging, we’re seeing more and more folks coming into the shelter that are using a wheelchair or using a walker,” Moran said. “We’ve had a few dementia cases, and if you ever want to get lost in a building, that’s the building to get lost in. It just really is not meeting our needs.”

The new one-story shelter would be handicap-accessible and close to schools and the hospital.

If the state approves the grant, the city’s public works director says construction could get underway next summer.