The Haines Borough Administration Building. (Google Maps)

The Haines Borough Administration Building. (Google Maps)

The Haines Borough Assembly Tuesday gave the go-ahead to award a contract for construction of the first phase of the small boat harbor expansion project.

The assembly voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution authorizing Borough Manager Bill Seward to execute a contract with Pacific Pile & Marine. The company offered the lowest bid on the first phase of the project, at just over $13 million.

The first phase includes harbor basin dredging, construction of the steel wave barrier, moorage pile replacement and the uplands parking area. The company’s bid was also for three add alternates. The first would include additional dredging within the existing inner harbor. The second is for sacrificial pile anodes to protect the wave barrier from corrosion. Add alternate c includes a 33 ft. wave barrier extension and more dredging for that extension.

Assembly member Heather Lende voted against the resolution.

“I’m still not convinced that we can afford to complete operate and maintain the new harbor as designed and that the millions needed to finish it will be given to us for no financial sacrifice on the communities part – no bond, no taxes, no cuts in other services,” said Lende.

Assemblyman Tom Morphet has been an outspoken critic of the process the harbor project went through, and what he feels was a lack of public input in that process. Still, he voted for the resolution.

“With the utmost reluctance and the gravest fear that this project will be damned by our descendants, I will cast a vote for phase one,” said Morphet.

He said he didn’t think continuing to delay the project would be productive.

Mayor Jan Hill spoke in favor of passing the resolution.

“I think this project is critically important to our future,” said Hill. “Any yes, there risks but I don’t think those risks are something we can’t overcome.”

She was joined in her support by several community members, including Sean Gaffney.

“I think that we’re fortunate to have the grant money that we’ve received and I think we’re much more fortunate to have had the low bid come in at the level that it did that allows us to immediately move other parts of that project forward. And I’d urge you to support it tonight,” said Gaffney.

In the end, the contract was supported, but not in its entirety. The assembly voted to amend the resolution to exclude add alternate c. That would have extended the wave barrier and include additional basin dredging. That would have extended the wave barrier and include additional basin dredging at a cost of about $385,000. Assemblyman Ron Jackson suggested the change.

“The big driver for me is we’re short on money for the other build out inside the float and things like that we’d like to have,” said Jackson. “This is a third of a million dollars or a little more than that. It’s an opportunity to get a little ahead on future expansion.”

Harbormaster Shawn Bell explained the importance of that part of the project.

“You’ve got distances between the moorage floats, the work float, and then the launch ramp. As we add those additional 33 feet the distance between all those three facilities increases to a greater comfort zone that I believe to be safer all the way around,” said Bell.

He said he also wants to be able to have the option of maximizing moorage and working space in the harbor.

But Margaret Friedenauer, the assembly liaison to the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee, said while the they wanted to see that additional work included, it is the third priority on their list.

“They recognize that it might make some in the community and on the assembly more comfortable approving the contract if we had extra savings to set aside,” said Friedenauer.

At the end of the meeting, advisory committee chair Norm Hughes said not including that part of the project will make harbor patron’s lives more difficult.

“I’m just really not quite sure how we came about with not including add alt c in the process,” said Hughes. “The manager’s recommendation was to include it. The harbor committee’s recommendation was to include all the ad alternates.”

Still, the resolution passed without that component, bringing the cost down to about $12.8 million.

The assembly also voted in favor of a resolution to authorize a contract with the Juneau-based company Corvus Design for the Portage Cove Interpretive Trail and Harbor Park conceptual designs. That project will factor into the uplands portion of the harbor project. That contract is for just over $39,000.