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WPC approves memorial, discusses Meyers Chuck dock

 

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The Ports Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to approve this final design for the Mariner's Memorial. The design now heads to Chris Mertl of Corvus Design to be turned into bid documents.

The Wrangell ports commission voted 4-0 Thursday to approve a final draft for the Mariners Memorial.

The draft plan represents features compiled from among three options presented to the commission by Juneau-based landscape artist Chris Mertl of Corvus Design. It will now head back to Mertl, who will prepare draft blueprint documents of the Memorial's features, designs which could be taken to charitable organizations, the state legislature, or other potential funding sources. The designs have been in the works since the borough assembly voted Jan. 16 to approve the re-appropriation of design funds from a use-it-or-lose-it state grant, according to commissioners.

"My understanding talking with Chris was it was going to be roughly what we paid so far to take a concept like we've got right now and take it to construction documents, which that's roughly $11,000," commission president Brennan Eagle said. "I think it's about $20,000 left. Obviously Chris would come back to us with a bid, or an estimate for his professional services and it may change slightly."

A second unanimous vote directed Mertl to produce bid documents for the project.

Some money remains in the upland design grants. While contracts are typically subject to a competitive bidding process mandated by state law, a waiver exists for professional services contracts, like the one used to hire Mertl, borough manager Jeff Jabusch told the board.

"Where I'm coming with this, is between $10,000 and $20,000 we're required to get three quotes," he said. "In this case somebody is already halfway through it. In this case, it's the waiver. I think I could probably approve that. I'll send something, probably an e-mail to the assembly."

The commission also discussed but took no action on the fate of the Meyers Chuck dock and seaplane float. The state legislature has offered the borough $1.4 million to take responsibility for the dock's maintenance. The borough would take approximately half the total funds and apply them to improvements at Shoemaker Harbor, borough manager Jeff Jabusch told the commission. The other half would be set aside and combined with dock fees to prepare for the eventual replacement of the Meyers Chuck float, which is nearing the end of its useable lifespan, Jabusch told the commission.

"My idea is that we will set aside a portion of that ... for Meyers Chuck," he said. "At some point when they say they're willing to pay ... then we would be willing to go forward with the design and try to get the matching (funds) with state."

An estimated $600,000 would be reserved for Meyers Chuck, while $800,000 would replace the Shoemaker Bay harbor floats, Jabusch said.

Eagle, harbormaster Greg Meissner, and a State Department of Transportation representative traveled to Meyers Chuck April 28, and spoke with residents about the dock.

"The float system is currently 50 years old," Eagle said. "It's a wood float. (It) looked about like Inner Harbor ... maybe slightly better than Inner Harbor."

The dock also contains a 30-year-old metal piling structure which is also nearing the end of its intended use. The Meyers Chuck community is ineligible to receive the funds directly, since state law requires the

disbursement to go to the nearest municipality, which would be the Wrangell borough,

harbor officials said. The State has no funds allotted for upkeep of the facility, and the only maintenance they were

prepared to perform was to remove the float in the event that it became a hazard, harbor officials said.

"My job ... was to explain to them how the harbors are an enterprise fund in Wrangell, and there's nothing that's

getting a free ride here," he said. "While revenue may not need to exactly match the expenses associated with something, there does need to be some type of a revenue stream associated with it because we're supposed to at least try and balance the books here."

At least two members of the Meyers Chuck community wrote messages to the commission on the subject of new fees.

Edward Talik supported borough management and the associated fees, according to his letter.

"The question, as I see it, has a couple of layers," his letter reads in part. "Firstly, should the Port Commission make a recommendation to the Borough Assembly to accept ownership of the Meyers Chuck dock? Secondly, if such a

recommendation were made, would the citizens who live or pay taxes here in Meyers Chuck be amenable to moorage fees?"

"I answer 'yes' to both of these questions," the letter continues.

The borough would do a

better job of maintaining the dock, Talik wrote.

Dave Perry opposed the takeover, on the grounds that the borough has a long list of maintenance and repair

projects, and the Meyers Chuck dock and float would end up at the bottom of the list.

"The State funds that Wrangell Harbors would receive would soon be used up on your aging facilities, and we would just be added to the long list of repair and replacements that are under-funded," his

e-mail reads in part. "The only thing that we were assured is that there would be a fee station installed and the residents can begin paying moorage for the tired, sinking dock ... we now have."

Commissioners postponed the item to allow more time for Meyers Chuck residents to comment on the potential takeover.

In other business, the

commission voted unanimously to approve the 2014-15 budget. Budget figures show the harbor fund holds $2,310,338 in reserve from the previous year with an additional $1,784,016 in revenues. The harbor replacement fund contains $925,407, which is the single largest line item in the reserve heading. Harbor revenues, the largest line item in revenues and transfers, decreased about 1 percent to $880,139 in 2013-14. The Harbor fund also constitutes the biggest line item expenditure at $854,613. Ongoing payments related to the new boat haul out – delayed until beyond production deadline Tuesday – constitute the second-largest expenditure line item.

 

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