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Boat storage, renovations top Port Commission agenda


Greg Knight

The Port Commission is taking under consideration a plan to renovate either Shoemaker Bay or Inner Harbor. Shown above, Shoemaker Bay is experiencing deterioration of its decking and fingers throughout the facility. The commission will walk both locations during an April 4 work session.

A possible change to a City ordinance dealing with the long-term storage of vessels at the Marine Service Center was one of the topics discussed during the Wrangell Port Commission meeting held March 11 at City Hall.

A discussion about prioritizing renovations at either Shoemaker Bay or Inner Harbor also took place before the regular meeting during a workshop session.

According to Harbormaster Greg Meissner, a possible renovation of Shoemaker would cost as much as $9.75 million and would add slips that could accommodate vessels up to 70 feet in length, would replace older floats and would see the new additions built to the same quality as Heritage Harbor.

“This is a wish list item,” Meissner said. “But it’s something we have to look at in the future.”

Currently there are no 70-foot slips at Shoemaker. Meissner also added that a possible dredging operation could make the north end of the harbor deeper – allowing for even larger vessels to maneuver in the water.

Meissner also told the commission that design work for the Shoemaker project would cost approximately $600,000 and that he hoped to see funding from the Denali Commission to complete that portion of the proposed project.

Renovations to Inner Harbor could include new fingers, a new dock, or both according to Meissner.

“The main problem with Inner Harbor is the 30-foot fingers,” Meissner said. “They’re falling apart and unsafe. The question is, how do we move on? We have a certain amount of money saved and we have more projects than money, so where we are going to put our priorities at this time?”

Meissner estimates a range of $2-4 million to replace the dock and fingers at Inner.

The commission will hold a walk-through workshop session at both harbors prior to their next regular meeting.

In new business, the commission passed draft language for an ordinance that would limit the time boats could be stored or worked on in the non-lease portions of the Marine Service Center.

The language of the proposed ordinance would be, “an ordinance to set a 24 month time limit for vessels in MSC managed property.” The motion was presented by member Bill Knecht and seconded by member Clay Hammer. The vote to approve the motion was unanimous, with member John Yeager absent.

Meissner said he was seeking the change to prevent boat owners who rarely or never work on their vessels from storing them for multiple years – as he tries to moves boats through to create jobs for Wrangell residents at the yard.

“Boat yards, in general, have a common problem where many vessels go into yards with good intentions of seeing the water again but years down the road they have not left and they become derelict and we’re stuck with them,” Meissner said. “For Wrangell, our boatyard is to be of an economic benefit to the community and even though we get money for storage, we want to see boats that come in and out and see money spent on Front Street. So, that is the main reason; we want to see economic development.”

The next meeting of the commission is set for April 4 at 7 p.m., with a workshop beginning at 5:30 p.m.


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