Planning for the future of a major chunk of Haines’ downtown waterfront is underway. The second phase of the Portage Cove Harbor Expansion includes a drive-down sport fishing ramp and a 4.5-acre parking lot. At a community meeting last week, an engineer told residents that aesthetic improvements to the area are limited by space and money.
The sport ramp and its neighboring parking lot will be mostly funded by federal money funneled through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
With that funding come stipulations. The parking lot needs a minimum of 48 trailer spots and 15 car spots. There is also space needed for fishermen using new floats.
It’s the parking lot, not the sport launch ramp, that is the subject of most of this design planning work.
PND Design Engineer Brandon Ivanowicz presented a few design options at a second community meeting.
Ivanowicz said the best option is called 1C. It has 137 parking spaces, which meets Fish and Game requirements. And, it adds in a strip of landscaping between Front Street and the parking lot.
“This is gonna be my recommendation…I think it’s the best one,” said Ivanowicz.
More greenery was something several residents asked for at the first community meeting. But Ivanowicz said additional landscaping on the water’s edge might be out of Haines’ budget.
He showed two concepts called 1D and 1E: one has planter boxes that jut out over the water, and the other has a strip of greenery on the water’s edge.
“To be blunt and honest I think concepts 1D and 1E are unaffordable,” Ivanowicz said.
Fish and Game has already agreed to pay for the demolition of Lookout Park and construction of a new harbor park on the corner of the expanded uplands. Beyond that, Ivanowicz said the state is not keen to pay for other aesthetic improvements.
“Will Fish and Game pay for those? No,” Ivanowicz said. “I talked to the grant administrator and he said we’re doing a lot of landscaping in the parking area and we’re helping to provide a new park. He said it’s just not within in the scope of our grant to go any further.”
Haines would have to come up with several hundred thousand dollars to build the planter platforms or greenery buffer.
And Fish and Game doesn’t yet have all the funding in hand to build even the essential components of the project. Right now, the department has $2 million available. Another $1.5 million is guaranteed, but not until next summer. And it’s possible, even likely according to Ivanowicz, that an additional $1.5 million will be available in 2019. That adds up to a possible total of $5 million from Fish and Game.
The base construction bid is estimated to cost about $4.1 million.
“And that would include the boat launch ramp, the boarding float, the concrete sea walk around the perimeter of the facility, all the curbs and gutters, the islands and landscaping within the parking lot, all the lighting for the parking lot and boat launch ramp and the completed harbor park,” Ivanowicz said.
With $3.5 million from Fish and Game about $420,000 set aside in borough funding (from a state bond), Haines will get to close the money needed for the base bid by July of 2018.Ivanowicz recommended going to bid and starting construction next fall.
In 2019, if another $1.5 million comes through, the borough can complete ‘add alternates,’ like paving and striping the parking lot and installing safety rails. If the borough follows that plan, the sport ramp and uplands project could be complete by summer of 2020.
PND will hold at least one more public meeting in Haines before settling on a concept design.