A conceptual drawing for the Haines Portage Cove Harbor Boat Launch Improvements. (PND Engineers)

At a meeting Tuesday, the Haines Assembly approved the conceptual design for the second phase of the small boat harbor expansion project. But, not without some hesitation.

“I think we should postpone this decision,” said Assemblyman Tresham Gregg. He said the assembly needs to be sure this design is what the group wants. “I don’t see a real reason for it to push through at this point in time. Even though we’ve had a number of public meetings about it,” said Gregg.

Gregg’s motion to postpone a decision on the conceptual design for the sport boat launch and parking failed after Mayor Jan Hill broke a tie vote. But, it received support from other members of the assembly.

Tom Morphet raised concerns about the walkway that runs between the parking lot and the boat launch.

“They placed the bathroom here, the park here, and in between you’ve got guys backing up and a trail going right behind those cars backing up. That to me is just the apex of illogic,” said Morphet.

Morphet said the assembly already brought up the safety concern. The group recently passed a motion opposing the installation of a public trail leading across the boat ramp.

After that, engineers nixed ha ving a sea walk with interpretive signs and a designated trail. But, they said it was still important to have a pedestrian route – a sidewalk.

Heather Lende supported the idea of having more time to work on the design.

“I think we have an opportunity to figure some things out before we send the engineers off on the drawings and get it all lined up in exactly this way,” said Lende.

But Brenda Josephson pushed back on delaying the process.

“This has gone through an exhaustive public process,” said Josephson. “There were meetings at the Chilkat Center on it. The Planning Commission had meetings, Parks and Rec, Ports and Harbors. I believe in a robust public process. I would like to see us respect that process.”

Sean Maidy reminded the assembly that there will be opportunities to add more details to the design.

“These have been through exhaustive meetings,” said Maidy. “And I know people are excited about a possible wash-down station or a boat storage area and stuff like that. But I remember at the last meeting when we were mentioning this to the designers, they said ‘yeah we would love to find out about the wash-down station but we would need to find out where the drainage would go first,’ and that’s on the next stage of design.”

Drawings will come back for public hearings at different stages of design.

At the beginning of the meeting, planning commissioners Jeremy Stephens and Donnie Turner spoke in favor of moving the design forward.

“There’s a lot of issues and we had to find common ground with parking spaces and green space and the new location of Lookout Park or Harbor Park or whatever it’s going to be called,” said Stephens. “I think everyone came together and performed and PND responded, and I think we have a really good plan sitting on your desk tonight that’s been approved by the Parks and Rec, Planning Commission, and Ports and Harbor.”

“This has been through all the public process,” said Turner. “I would hope that you would take your personal bias and follow the public process.”

Mayor Hill broke another tie vote in favor of advancing the conceptual plans.