The Haines Borough Manager and Assembly want to get more serious about Lutak Dock.
The dock is Haines’ connection to freight and fuel deliveries. But it’s at risk of catastrophic failure. Engineers say it’s living on borrowed time.
Haines has a few conceptual options for replacement or repair of the vital facility. The cheapest one is an estimated $21 million. It would replace the dock with berthing dolphins.
Over the past few weeks, there’s been disagreement about whether Haines should pursue funding for the least expensive option or a more ideal design. The preferred design involves encapsulation of the existing cells. It would retain the footprint of the current dock, which includes storage space. It would cost about $37 million.
That design would be preferable if the facility were to be used for mineral shipments or some other new industry in the future.
Borough Manager Debra Schnabel said Haines needs to decide between the favored option, which will be harder to fund, or the bare-bones design.
“It’s good to think of the future planning for the economy of the community,” Schnabel said. “And I think a lot of people see Lutak Dock as being an economic driver…And then the other face of the argument is the catastrophic response. Can we survive without having something?”
The borough’s first attempt to get a federal grant for Lutak was rejected, at least partly because there is so little funding currently in place for the project.
Schnabel says at this point, the borough has dedicated only $1.2 million to the project. She has requested up to $10 million of re-appropriated Juneau Access funds from the state. And the borough plans to continue pursuing federal funding.
“I think that in order for us to get what we want, we have to start looking to ourselves to put up a little more of our own,” Schnabel said. “That’s not to say we should stop trying to get exactly what we want. But I would like to see us come together and discuss this.”
The assembly decided to schedule a meeting with the planning commission and port and harbor advisory committee to delve into how to pay for Lutak Dock. The meeting is Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.