At a meeting this week, the Haines Borough Assembly delayed a decision on a proposed trail and ferry shuttle that raised a number of questions.
Jonathan Richardson applied for a commercial tour permit that would allow him to run a 15-seat shuttle to hiking areas and the ferry terminal.
In his permit application, he laid out a schedule driving between Battery Point, Mount Ripinsky, Chilkat River Beaches and the marine highway terminal on ferry days. Richardson also proposed using a second van for guided hikes in Chilkat State Park.
“This idea began with my seeing cruise ship passengers in town with not enough to do and looking kind of unhappy because they’d be asking about transportation or places to go and then there’s just nothing that could be done,” Richardson said. “And I thought something should be done about that.”
The assembly supported the general idea behind Richardson’s proposal. But they had a lot of questions.
First, they wondered whether the Chilkat River Beaches are an appropriate place to run to the shuttle because tourists could easily stray onto private property. They also questioned Richardson’s idea to establish a new, more accessible trail on Mount Ripinsky. And, they raised concerns about his plan to lead guided hikes in Chilkat State Park.
“I guess I’m just hoping that we’re not setting ourselves up to have Search and Rescue out every week,” said Assemblyman Tom Morphet.
Tourism Director Leslie Ross emphasized that Haines is in serious need of public transportation, both for tourists trying to get to hiking trails and for ferry passengers. But she also had reservations about Richardson’s proposal.
“I have concerns about a lot of parts of it, but mostly the guided hiking parts,” Ross said. “It just seems very vague on the plan for it, the safety plan for it. And I have concerns about Chilkat beaches because it’s not a designated hiking area. There’s no signs, it’s not a park.”
The assembly decided to postpone a decision until its next meeting, to give Richardson time to address the concerns they raised in his application.