Ketchikan’s City Council is playing the hits this Thursday. Ferries, cruise ship docks, Ketchikan’s hospital — and, of course, COVID-19 — are among the more than 50 topics outlined on this week’s mammoth meeting agenda.
COVID-19 quarantine and testing measure
Ketchikan City Council member Sam Bergeron says he’d like to see stronger state travel restrictions to minimize the spread of COVID-19. To that end, he’s proposed a resolution that would ask the governor to require two-week quarantines for all travelers, both in-state and out-of-state, with two rounds of testing.
In an op-ed published on local news site SitNews, supporters say it’s based on what they see as a successful policy in the expansive, sparsely populated state of Western Australia. Quarantine requirements would be lifted after local transmission of the virus is eliminated, according to the draft request. And, of course, it is just a request — passing the resolution wouldn’t enact the quarantine policy.
And that’s not the only coronavirus-related item up for debate — Bergeron also says he’d like to see face masks required at City Council meetings. As it stands, face masks are encouraged but not required — though seats are spaced at least six feet apart.
Ward Cove financial impact study completed
City officials have received the results of a McDowell Group study on the financial impact of a new megaship dock in Ketchikan’s unincorporated Ward Cove area. The new 500-foot dock is a joint venture between Alaska investors and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Though the study doesn’t take into account the unpredictable future of the cruise industry post-pandemic, analysts with the consulting firm say the City of Ketchikan stands to lose roughly 20% of the passengers it welcomed in 2019 to the new Ward Cove dock. That’d be a loss of roughly $4.3 million in port fees and sales taxes compared with last year, according to the report.
And that $4.3 million number? That’s a low-tier estimate — that assumes Norwegian is the only line to call on Ward Cove. If other lines redirect their ships north of city limits, the firm says the city’s losses could be even greater.
Port proposals to face public scrutiny
Progress on the city’s proposal to turn over day-to-day dock operations to a private company in exchange for $35 million in shoreside spending is continuing after the city shortlisted two potential port operators.
And though details of the two companies’ proposals have so far been under wraps, the process is set to get a lot more public in the next couple weeks. Next Wednesday, Ketchikan-based port operator Survey Point Holdings will hold an open house detailing their plans for the downtown docks. They’ll be followed the next Wednesday by Ketchikan Port Solutions, a partnership between an Anchorage consultancy and U.K.-based Global Ports Holding.
State group asks about Ketchikan’s ferry needs
As for the state ferry system, a group tasked with forging a new future for the Alaska Marine Highway System is asking what Ketchikan’s ferry needs are. The chair of the AMHS Reshaping Work Group says the community’s needs will inform the recommendations of the group tasked with advising the Dunleavy administration.
Hospital presentation and negotiations
And, finally, the city council is scheduled to hear a quarterly presentation from PeaceHealth, the Washington state-based Catholic nonprofit that runs Ketchikan’s hospital. It’ll be new Ketchikan Medical Center chief Dori Stevens’ first time in front of the council, and she’s got big shoes to fill — interim hospital administrator Joe Mark got rave reviews from council members after his first presentation earlier this year.
This week’s Ketchikan City Council meeting gets underway at 7:00 p.m. Thursday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center. It’ll be preceded by a closed-door session updating council members on lease negotiations with PeaceHealth to continue to run the city-owned hospital.
Residents can offer their input at the beginning of the meeting.