At a meeting Thursday, Skagway Borough Assembly members said they wanted more information before moving forward with two items: port consultant proposals and a school vocational education building.
Skagway sent out a call for port consultants this summer. A year ago, progress stalled on port development plans when voters rejected a tidelands lease between the municipality and White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. The hope is that an outside maritime planning firm could revitalize progress on Skagway’s waterfront.
The borough received four proposals from Moffatt & Nichol, KPFF, BergerABAM, and Pacific Contract Company in conjunction with KPMG and CH2MHill.
A borough staff scoring committee rated KPFF’s proposal the highest. KPFF is the same engineering firm that worked on the now-stalled Gateway Project.
But some people aren’t happy with the process the borough followed in reviewing the consultant applications.
“I was surprised that these proposals never came to the port commission,” said Port Commission Chair Tim Bourcy.
He said his group should’ve been consulted.
“In order to move forward and present something in a cohesive manner in the community we have to get on the same page,” Bourcy said. “And we still aren’t.”
Borough Manager Scott Hahn responded to the criticism. He said he heard that one or multiple port commissioners had discussed the request for proposals with one of the bidders.
“I didn’t want to take a chance on any litigation that one party had gotten any information different form another,” he said. “So I kept it pure by not having the port commission involved.”
Hahn emphasized that the port commission still could weigh in, just separately from the borough scoring committee.
Port commissioner John Tronrud chimed in, saying he should’ve made an effort to put the port consultant proposals on the last meeting agenda.
The assembly agreed to delay a decision on a bidder until the port commission could meet and provide advice. The topic is due back at the next meeting on Oct.6.
The assembly also delayed a vote related to the proposed Skagway School vocational education building, but not due to lack of support.
“I think it would be quite beneficial for the community for kids to have a head start on everything from welding to car mechanics to woodworking,” Assemblyman Jay Burnham said. “I’m all for it.”
Assembly member Tim Cochran said the voc-ed center could also help community members develop skills and take on jobs that are needed in Skagway.
“There are mechanics in town but they tend to get backed-up, busy,” Cochran said. “We have a problem right now with one person doing furnaces. It would be nice to get some more opportunities for filling that void as well.”
The borough has already budgeted $140,000 this fiscal year to spend on engineering for the voc-ed project. But before they move forward with that, Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. asked for a more detailed picture of the project.
The assembly agreed to schedule a meeting with assembly and school board representatives to draw up a more specific proposal.