Ketchikan Creek swells after heavy rains in Nov. 2019. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

Downtown beautification projects top the Ketchikan City Council’s agenda for its Thursday night meeting. The council is also set to discuss the recently-nixed Ocean Ranger program and a local company’s proposal to guide tours on a popular trail.

Downtown beautification

The City Council will discuss three potential projects aimed at making downtown Ketchikan a more attractive destination for visitors. City staff say that’s essential given that a competing cruise terminal on Ward Cove is set to open later this summer.

One of those projects is what officials call the “Salmon Walk.” It’s a proposal that would add signage, art and educational displays to Ketchikan’s Creek Street boardwalk emphasizing the historical and present-day importance of the fish.

Museum staff helped design the Salmon Walk, and they say in a memo that the project would help revitalize what they call a neglected and congested area.

City Council members will consider phase one of the project Thursday. That would include a renovated fish ladder on Ketchikan Creek and a brand-new handicap-accessible viewing platform. It would also relocate a nearby crosswalk. The total cost of this first phase is estimated at $320,000. That would come out of the city’s share of state head taxes. Crews could start work on the fish ladder and viewing platform renovations this spring and summer.

The council will also discuss spending $62,200 of state head tax money on a long-envisioned restroom facility on Stedman Street at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek. The money would pay for a final design from Ketchikan-based Welsh Whiteley Architects. Construction is forecast to cost $1.5 million next year.

A third project — an extension of the Thomas Basin waterfront promenade — is in earlier stages. City officials are asking for $38,000 in state-collected cruise passenger taxes to pay Juneau-based PND Engineers for a preliminary design. 

Ocean Rangers

In other business, the council is set to discuss whether to ask the state government to restore the Ocean Ranger program. Voters authorized the cruise ship environmental monitoring program in 2006, but the it got the axe when it was vetoed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy last year. 

Trail permitting

And, finally, the council will be asked whether to object to a local company’s request to guide hiking tours on Carlanna Lake Trail. A draft letter to the federal Bureau of Land Management asks the agency to assure the city that it won’t modify its permitting process to allow for more commercial activity.

The City Council meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. in the Ketchikan City Council chambers.