Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions



by Phil Doherty


February 01, 2005

Over the past several months Ketchikan's City Council has been struggling whether to take over complete ownership of Knudsen Cove and Hole-in-the-Wall small boat harbors from the State of Alaska. These two harbors are used largely by local boaters that own small recreational boats. The harbors are also used by those that have remote homes and cabins in the outlying areas, people seeking a safe tie-up during bad weather, some commercial fishers and charter boat owners, and organizations like the First Baptist s Orton Ranch.

During that time several of us have tried to work through the problems that the Council have rightfully identified. The following are most, if not all of the major problems, and our attempt to find solutions:


The original estimate to repair the harbors was approximately $1.5 million per harbor. However, we have worked with the City's consulting firm (kpff) and they have been able to drastically reduce the scope and costs of repairs. For Hole-in-the-Wall kpff has presented a plan that will costs approximately $150,000. These upgrades would be good for 5 to 6 years. The City, if it accepts ownership now, will have in hand approximately $160,000 for that harbor. These are State funds dedicated to Hole-in-the-Wall.

The next stage would cost approximately $600,000. We have presented a plan though increased user fees to pay for a large portion of this project. We are also seeking State and Federal money. We have received some positive responses about State and Federal money, but the City has to ask for these funds.

Also the City recently has ordered 5 new floats, repaired many of the bull rails, and added floatation to Hole-in-the-Wall, so this lessens the cost of kpff's upgrades even more.

For Knudsen Cove the story is much the same. While kpff has not finished its revised plan for Knudsen Cove our conversations with kpff staff members convinces us that the project, both short and long term, will come in under the originally stated $1.5 million. The State will give the City $535,000 for Knudsen Cove. That money should pay for the entire upgrade of Knudsen Cove.

So, with any luck at all, the large projects should not cost the City of Ketchikan any out-of-pocket money.

For the long-term, day in and day-out maintenance we have told the City Council that we are very willing to sit down with the staff and look at a reasonable fee increase to pay for these out of town harbors. As it is right now we pay 20% more for our stalls then in-town stall users. We are not asking for any handouts, and we do not believe that accepting these harbors is going to cost the City any extra money.

Land Ownership Conflicts

At the beginning of this process one of the problems was that the State's Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough had either tideland rights or upland property rights. Over the past months, either through our efforts or through the efforts of Mr. Amylon the various government entities have told the City that all land use issues can and will be resolved when the City takes ownership.

So it looks as though the tidelands and uplands issues can be overcome.

It's outside of the City

Even though the State has owned the harbors, the City has operated the harbors for many years. Now the State is no longer in the ports and harbor business, however the City does have the infrastructure to continue to operate the harbors. It makes no fiscal sense to make the Borough develop a Ports and Harbors Department just to maintain Hole-in-the-Wall and Knudsen Cove. These two harbors are an important aspect of our lives in Ketchikan, regardless if it is inside or outside of the City. Let's come together as a community, and keep those harbors public.

Ports and Harbors Advisory Board

The Advisory Board was against transferring ownership at the beginning of this process. Now, however, after meeting with us and understanding our side of the issue the Board is requesting another six-month extension with the State to come up with a plan. In fact, David Nesje, chairman of that Board, believes that these harbors are very important to Ketchikan's economy and are worth the investment of City money.

Hopefully the City Council will accept the recommendation of its Advisory Board.

Thank-you for your time.

Phil Doherty
Ketchikan, AK - USA



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.



Write a Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska