Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Assembly approves mill development study


First steps toward redeveloping the old mill site near Shoemaker Bay were taken at a special meeting of the City and Borough Assembly on Dec. 2.

Assembly members approved a proposal received for an assessment and feasibility study for possible redevelopment of the Silver Bay Logging Company mill site, a 110-acre property currently in private hands. Along with the Borough’s old Institute property, the mill has lately been suggested as suitable for future expansion since its closure in 2008.

While the 134-acre Institute property has potential for residential uses, the mill’s size and deep-water access would make it a good fit for maritime services. During public discussion sessions for the waterfront master plan this spring, the 6-Mile Zimovia Highway site was named as a possible destination for a relocated barge company, as well as large-sized vessel haulouts, repair services and other industrial purposes.

A request for proposals was issued on Oct. 2, and three bids finally opened on Oct. 28. Services were not to exceed $87,000, part of a $90,000 legislative allotment through the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

The contract was awarded to Maul Foster & Alongi (MFA) of Bellingham, Wash. Under its proposal, MFA would review existing plans and records to determine the existing infrastructure, environmental status, appropriate land use and marketability of the property. Its assessment also requires an on-site field investigation, which if granted would include a full survey of facilities, interviews and review of documentation.

An interactive workshop would be held with city staff and other designated participants afterward in order to identify concerns and possible liabilities. The workshop would also look at the property’s commercial possibilities, and explore preliminary concepts for development.

A community open house workshop would also be held, not unlike sessions held for the city’s waterfront master plan earlier in the year.

Based on information collected through these opening tasks, the MFA team would prepare site concepts and a financial analysis for the project. The latter would lay out cost details for infrastructural needs and site development, present strategies for possible development by private and public partners, and summarize how the city would be impacted financially by the project.

The final phase of MFA’s role would be to review drafted materials and provide an opportunity for comment. A second series of on-site meetings and presentations would go toward revising and completing a redevelopment assessment report. As with the waterfront project and Front Street revitalization before it, this completed report would be a guide for development and an asset when applying for available project funding from different sources.

“I think it’ll be very good,” Julie Decker explained to fellow Assembly members. She had helped narrow down the field of applicants for the project to two, of which MFA was chosen after a teleconference. “This is really just their area of expertise.”

Others on the review panel were Terri Henson and Don McConachie of Planning and Zoning, Bill Goodale of Southeast Properties, and Carol Rushmore, Wrangell’s director for economic development.

During last week’s meeting, the Assembly also approved the Mitchell-Buhler Replat, requested by Mark Mitchell. As a member of the Assembly, Mitchell excused himself during the vote. The final replat would create eight lots from four, which had since been physically separated by construction of the highway.

A regularly-scheduled meeting and workshop set for Tuesday was rescheduled for Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., in light of a planned memorial service for Fr. Thomas Weise (see article). However, the Mass planned for that evening was itself rescheduled for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.


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