SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Rob Holston


October 17, 2009

A group of local interested citizens met for nearly 2 hours on Oct. 13, 2009 at the offices of R&M Engineering to discuss Ward Cove. Trevor Sande provided maps of the pulp mill side of the cove with subdivision and roadway boundaries indicated. The subdivision plan had been previously prepared for a past owner of Ward Cove.

The following were present: Trevor Sande, Alethia Johnson, Mike Elerding, Dan Mestas, Dave Anderes, Jim Church, Wayne Weihing, Steve Seley, Rob Holston and Jeff Updike. Jonathan Lappin and Deborah Hayden attended, representing the KGB.

Those attending, briefly indicated why they were interested in Ward Cove. Many were there to show concern for the direction the KGB would take in disposing of WC and four others additionally were interested in purchasing parcels if the site were subdivided. One anecdotal testimony stated that a California group of investors had evaluated Ward Cove for investment purposes and determined it would only be a wise purchase if the entire 387 acres could be purchased for around $500,000. That estimate was determined prior to the scouring study.*

*KGB staff described the "scouring study" by CH2MHill. Two counter studies were conducted at the direction of the KGB and the results contradicted the CH2MHill studies. The KGB can be contacted for copies of these reports. The ultimate outcome will determine if the EPA will ever allow deep draft vessels and tug boats to operate in areas of the cove where sand capping has occurred.

Jonathan & Deborah talked about the Consent Decree, EPA, ROD Uplands & ROD Tidelands along with various easement requirements that made the 387 acre site challenging. Deborah reported that she had been given the task of selling Ward Cove, but also the directive NOT to spend any money doing so. Because subdividing costs money, she could not consider that option until the Assembly approved those expenditures. Some questioned why the KGB would not be willing to invest some of the nearly $3,000,000 taken in by the east side auction and subdivide the pulp mill side of the cove.

The group seemed to have consensus on the issue of subdivision. No one was averse to subdividing as long as the development plan was in the best interests of the community. All who were present agreed that the dock should be jointly owned and operated as a common area, perhaps under a Port Authority arrangement. I suggested that any business should be encouraged to purchase their chosen site at 100% of commercially appraised value, provided that their business plan met the 8 criteria of the KGB's Code 10 for Economic Development. This would insure the land sale would result in economic development.

Steve Seley advised constructing a main access road off N. Tongass Hwy. Just north of the Veneer Mill. He also stated the timber industry is in a bankrupt state with no bright future in sight.

Forming a property owners group for the purpose of providing water, sewer and utilities was seen as a "no-brainer". No one suggested forming a group for the sake of purchasing the entire site.

Selling of various fringe properties that were not directly connected to the old pulp mill dock and the heavy industrialized portion of the property was seen as a way of establishing economic development, putting property on the tax rolls, creating money that could then be used to do clean-up and development work.

The KGB staff announced a meeting Nov. 9, 2009, for further Ward Cove discussions.

Rob Holston
Ketchikan, AK


Received October 13, 2009 - Published October 17, 2009


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Ketchikan, Alaska