The waterfront trail could stretch from Picture Point to the Portage Cove Campground. (Haines Borough RFP)

A Juneau-based design company is moving ahead with the plans for a waterfront trail in Haines. And, they’re asking for the public’s help. The first of several community meetings about the project will be held next week.

Community involvement has been a key part of the Portage Cove interpretive trail project from the start. Next week, residents will have several opportunities to work with the design team as drawings begin to take shape.

“What are the great stories about Haines?” asks Chris Mertl, a landscape architect at the Juneau-based company Corvus Design. He’s taking the lead on the waterfront trail project. He says the plan will be developed with the public in Haines.

“Haines has some great stories, whether it be its culture, its heritage, and its history and what we’re looking for is opportunities to tie those into the trail alignment and create opportunities along the trail that helps tell the story of Haines,” says Mertl.

Corvus was contracted for the conceptual design phase of the interpretive trail and harbor park project in November. Now, they’re asking for the public’s help to create those designs.

The planning for the trail is happening at the same time that the first phase of the small boat harbor expansion moves toward construction. The two projects will likely tie into each other, but it’s unclear to what degree they’ll overlap.

The first of five public meetings are set for next week in Haines.

“What we’re looking for the first public meeting is to get the community input on how to best create an interpretive trail and park that best meets the needs of the community,” says Mertl.

That first meeting will be held Monday, January 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chilkat Center. Mertl says they’re looking to hear from residents about what is important to this community. And logistically, they want to know where the trail needs to go.

“What are the areas that the trail needs to go through and connect. In terms of other destinations along the waterfront, making connections downtown, the Fort. And how do we really create a trail that supports and ties into the greater community,” Mertl.

The borough’s request for proposal for the project shows a possible trail stretching from Picture Point to the Portage Cove Campground.
After that first meeting, there will be open studio sessions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the public library. Residents can view the plans as they progress and give their input.

“We’re going to be doing design in the community,” says Mertl. “We really want to engage the community and invite people to come down and participate in the process. Help us with the design, help us with the layout. Help us understand and tell the great stories of Haines.”

The drawings generated during those sessions will be presented at another public meeting on Wednesday. That’s where they’ll present draft plans. That meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Chilkat Center.

Corvus has worked on similar projects in the region in recent years. They were part of the design team for the Sitka Sea Walk installed two years ago.

“Working with the community they really wanted to tie in the Russian and Tlingit culture into the waterfront trail,” says Mertl. “And for the sea walk what we utilized was a basket weave pattern, Tlingit basket weave pattern that represents water or tideline. That is a paving pattern that runs along the entire length of the Sitka sea walk.”

They also worked on the Skagway Pullen Creek StreamWalk.

The Alaska Arts Confluence is also involved in the planning process.

This will not be the only opportunity for public comment. Mertl says the design team will be back in Haines to work with the community and refine the plan as it moves forward.