Italian firm might have winning lift bid
Planning for the proposed Mariner’s Memorial at Heritage Harbor, and the purchase of a new travel lift for the Marine Service Center were the highlights of the most recent Wrangell Port Commission meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.
After the selection of Brennon Eagle as the new chairman of the commission, and the seating of Eric Yancey as the newest member, the quorum present got down to business beginning with a report from Harbormaster Greg Meissner.
“Phase II of the (Marine Service Center) concrete is underway and staff is expecting the 65 percent design by the end of November,” Meissner stated. “We are hoping to have about 80 percent of the yard concreted following this phase.”
According to Meissner, cost estimates for the 65 percent design should be included in those plans.
Meissner also addressed the bid process underway in the city’s plan for a new 300-ton travel lift. Two companies bid for the project – Kendrick Equipment at $1,714,044, and Ascom S.p.A., an Italian firm, at $1,315,000.
The city is still looking at the bids, however, and no decision has been made about accepting the European firm’s offer.
“The specifications were based on a Kendrick machine because we currently have a marine vessel hoist that is represented by Kendrick,” said Borough projects manager Amber Al-Haddad. “So, because it was based on their 300-ton model, we’re checking to make sure the Italian-made hoist is equal to or better than that model.”
Commissioner John Yeager echoed that sentiment – though he began his argument in financial terms.
“We have to do a review because of the money difference in the two bids,” Yeager said. “It was such a large amount we have to make sure we’re getting the same quality as the more expensive model. It’s pretty common to review these things and we don’t want to spend money on a sub-par unit considering the work that needs to be done.”
Ascom S.p.A. is based in Modena, Italy and is known to have sold at least one comparable hoist machine to a client in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, while the Vancouver-based Kendrick has a number of current and former clients in Alaska, Washington and Oregon.
After the meeting, Mayor Don McConachie said prudence in these sorts of purchases is a wise move for the Borough.
“I think we should be looking at the reputation of a company and how their equipment stands up before we make a decision,” McConachie said.
The commission will next consider the travel lift bids during their Dec. 6 regular meeting, with the Borough Assembly likely to take the matter under consideration on Dec. 11.
The conceptual design for the Mariner’s Memorial came before the commission courtesy of local artist Brenda Schwartz-Yeager, whose husband John Yeager sits on the commission. The design will tentatively be that of a lighthouse and gazebo with alternating walls open to the sea.
While the design was not Schwartz-Yeager’s, she said it is the culmination of a collective group of those involved over the past few years.
“There have been a lot of people working on the design for quite a while and I only became involved during the last year,” she said. “That drawing is an accumulation of a lot of people’s ideas sitting around a table. It was distilled down over time with input from the public and Port Commission.”
According to Schwartz-Yeager, additional artists involved in the conceptualization process included Wrangell residents Chris Cawthorne and former commission member Dave Sweat.
Meissner added that the construction aspect was also being considered with a look toward function and aesthetics.
“We’re looking at concrete walls, metal roofs,” Meissner said. “Something that’s durable and looks authentic.”
The memorial is to be built at the end of the breakwater at Heritage Harbor, though Meissner said landscaping of the area and the contents of the memorial itself are still up in the air.
While Eagle mentioned that he wanted lighting to be included in the project, Yancey said he had an idea of what he wanted to see inside the structure.
“My thought is names. Can we have names on the inside of these panels?” Yancey inquired.
Meissner took that suggestion under consideration and mentioned other ideas his office has considered for the interior.
“We’ve talked about 100 things,” Meissner said. “From pillars to walls outside, to the names of those lost at sea.”
Members Clay Hammer and Bill Privett were not present at the meeting