The Haines Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is requesting borough support with planning for a waterfront trail. The trail would ideally extend from the Portage Cove campground to Picture Point.
Last summer, plans for the Haines small boat harbor expansion had some residents concerned that paradise would be paved for a parking lot. Mayor Jan Hill formed a ‘harbor aesthetics committee’ to talk about the issue.
At the first meeting of the committee, resident Debra Schnabel said a walking path in Portage Cove should have been a priority in the harbor project.
“I think that where the existing harbor plan falls short for me, is it has not brought into the design pattern that aspect of what the community has always wanted to have,” Schnabel said.
Another major aesthetic concern had to do with Lookout Park. An expanded parking lot would have encompassed the recreational area. Now, the plan is to move the park to the edge of the parking lot.
Both the walking path and the park relocation could be incorporated into a potential waterfront trail.
The parks and rec committee asked Corvus Design for a design planning proposal. Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan said the Lookout Park relocation was incorporated into the proposal when Corvus got in touch with PND Engineers, the firm working on the harbor expansion.
“If they’re gonna do this waterfront trail, we’re concerned that if we move Lookout Park and then the trail doesn’t go to Lookout Park that would be kind of silly,” Ryan said. “So we called them to see what it would look like for conceptual designs to move Lookout Park as well. And it kind of got all wrapped up into one proposal.”
For about $19,000, Corvus would come up with a ‘master plan’ for the waterfront trail. It would also include a ‘conceptual relocation and redesign’ of Lookout Park.
Two community meetings would be included in the planning process, to solicit public input.
“I think that’s the most attractive part,” Ryan said. “It’s giving people a say to come to these meetings and provide their input and say this is what we want to see in a park.”
He says one of his concerns is that, if Lookout Park were demolished in phase one of the harbor project, and then wasn’t rebuilt until a later phase, the residents might be upset. He said the public meetings could help inform people about the process.
Parks and rec chair Rich Chapell said the committee was interested in Corvus Design because of work the firm has done on waterfront walkways in Skagway and Sitka. He said, if the committee had a conceptual design, it could apply for a recreational trails grant through State Parks.
Ryan says the Lookout Park relocation may be funded separately from the trail, even if the two components’ designs were combined. Residents Debra Schnabel and Lucy Harrell have pledged $1,000 and $5,000, respectively to help pay for the park relocation.
But the first thing that needs funding is the conceptual design planning. If the borough went with Corvus, it would cost about $19,000. Ryan says he is going to ‘try to work it in’ to the capital improvement projects list in the borough budget, which is due April 1.