The Skagway Assembly last week decided to revisit a trapping ordinance passed earlier this year and it voted down funding a change to the Gateway Project.
The assembly discussed the Gateway Project amendment mostly behind closed doors. But many of the details were laid out in a meeting earlier this month. Here’s the gist:
KPFF Engineers of Seattle was awarded the $1.5 million dollar design contract for the Gateway Project to expand the Skagway port. In October, the assembly voted to add another million dollars’ worth of work to the contract. That work is to analyze material in the Ore Dock Basin and conduct drilling in the ore dock peninsula and small boat harbor for the harbor expansion project.
Then KPFF said an agreement with its drilling subcontractor, Denali Drilling of Anchorage, fell through. In order to keep the project moving forward, KPFF found another company to do the work, Cascade Drilling. But because the company is located in Seattle and uses some different equipment, it will cost another $221,000 to bring the company to Skagway to do the work.
Engineer Bob Riley of KPFF was on the phone during the meeting and says there are only a few qualified drillers that can perform the type of work needed on the project. He said the additional money is to fund the change in drilling company and none of it goes to his firm. He said if the city doesn’t fund it, his company will have to cover it out of its own pocket.
But the assembly isn’t convinced the municipality is responsible for the extra cost. Discussion at that meeting – and at Thursday’s meeting – revolved around why KPFF didn’t have a contract with Denali Drilling if it intended to use that company for the work. The city also consulted with its attorney. Since the discussion last Thursday was behind closed doors, it’s not clear exactly why the assembly believes the city shouldn’t be on the hook for the extra cost. But snipits of discussion during the public part of the meeting suggest the assembly believes the contract language protects the city from having to pay for an increase of costs because of subcontractor backing out.
The assembly was unanimous in its refusal to pay the extra money. Project manager Chad Gubala said the drilling is still expected to begin the first week of January.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Civic Affairs committee Chair Angela Grieser asked the ordinance setting a list of established trails be postponed until the Jan. 22 meeting. That ordinance was drafted to accompany a recent trapping ordinance. But Grieser said she is bringing that trapping ordinance back up for consideration at the Jan. 22 meeting and so she wanted to wait on the trails ordinance as well.
The trapping ordinance was passed in June after about six months of sometimes heated committee meetings and public comment on the issue. Several people on Thursday again testified against the ordinance currently on the books. Former assemblyman and chairman of the civic affairs committee Jim Sager had worked to hammer out compromises between those not wanting local regulations on trapping and resident who wanted restrictions put in place within the borough and on nearby trails. But Greiser, as the new chair for the committee said she wants to bring the ordinance back to the assembly to possibly look at again. She said there was some confusion and unresolved issues with it.
“Whether the assembly attended it to be an eighth of a a mile or a quarter mile, there was some confusion on that,” she said. “And some people wanted the assembly to address the private property issue and that never got addressed. And also the maps weren’t done when you guys addressed it before and I think being able to see a map and how much area it really covers would be helpful.”
The assembly Thursday also heard an update on the Public Safety facility. Gary Hanson said once the project reaches a 65 percent design phase, he wants to use a design build process to move that project along. That process is different than having design totally completed before going out to bid on construction.
“Instead of having the whole design done 100 percent and then putting it out to bid for different construction companies to bid on, we want to bring the company in before the design is finalized, assuming they’re going to have a lot of suggestions for the architects on ways they can save money.”
Hanson said if he can get approval to move ahead with that process, he hopes to kick off the project later this year and break ground in 2016.