The deadline to use up $230,000 to make Picture Point into a picture perfect park is looming. That money is coming from a National Scenic Byways grant and matched borough funds with the planned pavilion, trails and fire pits on the hook for completion by December 31. Some decisions were made this week on the details but others are still up in the air.
“It is a scramble. There’s been a lot of back and forth on this,” said Brad Ryan, Borough Public Facilities Director. He is the fifth person to take on this project in four years.
Ryan met with the Picture Point Committee on Tuesday morning to iron out a few particulars. For example, they decided the pavilion will be built out of rough-cut spruce. And a cedar bridge will help folks cross a small creek between the north and south pullout. There’s still the question of the fire pit. Barbeque pits, like the ones at Tlingit Park, have already been purchased. But there is talk of a larger fire pit or fireplace closer to, or in, the pavilion so people can cook out and stay warm if the weather’s bad. Here’s Ryan talking to committee members.
“So we also put out a design build for a masonry fireplace, I’d heard masonry maybe fireplace, fire pit, it doesn’t much matter. The only person that was licensed that showed any interest was Jim Stanford and he gave me a big of $20 to $24,000.”
Stanford told Ryan that he couldn’t commit to making the stone structure before the deadline, however, because there are too many weather variables.
It wasn’t really the $24,000 price tag that made committee members balk, but the extravagant design.
Committee members Judy Heinmiller and Barbara Mulford said at the meeting that while the design was beautiful, they had envision a simpler design. Something one might equate with roasting wieners and marshmallows. They agreed to do a little research and see if they could find a more modest design. But, Ryan reminded them, they need to make it quick.
Ryan said they plan on getting the bulk of the work done by the deadline, but will apply for an extension in case the weather, or anything else, holds back progress. But extra time is not guaranteed.
Leslie Ross is the borough’s tourism director. She said the grant process for both the wayside money and the $500,000 land acquisition grant began in 2011. The larger sum was used to buy the land and put in the gravel parking areas. And the $230,000 of federal and borough money is being used for everything from construction to garbage cans and picnic tables. Ross said there’s a good chance there’ll be excess money at the end.
The plan now is functional and aesthetically pleasing, but it’s far from the original elaborate design.
“The overall plan that they came up with was gorgeous, it was probably running at $2 million so we really had to scope it down and try to get a nice park, which I think we’re doing,” Ross said.
A welcome sign hung between two totem poles, along with some interpretive signs will go up along with the shelter, stairs and barbeques. The foundation for the pavilion is set to be poured any day now, and construction will get underway soon after that.
Ryan and Ross agreed that raising the structure is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Ross said after four years of the project changing hands and designs, everyone involved is just ready to get it finished.