Summary: City and Borough of Juneau Docks & Harbors Board approved building a float extension at Amalga Harbor by a 6-1 vote. The motion to build the new float included provisions that the current fish cleaning table at the float be removed, the board work toward prohibiting fish cleaning at the float and dog bags be provided.
Working toward prohibiting fish cleaning and providing bags didn’t sweeten Amalga Harbor Road residents on the concept of the float extension.
Both Driscoll and Chase each said the project as designed won’t alleviate congestion since it is planned to come off of the existing float at an angle rather than straight ahead.
Additionally, they said the rock outcropping at the harbor needs to be removed, not marked with a sign.
“I don’t think the board as a whole really, truly understand the issue,” Driscoll said.
Chase questioned the necessity of the project.
“I feel they’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” Chase said.
McCasland made a motion to proceed with the extension, remove the fish cleaning table, post signs prohibiting fish cleaning, creation of a fine for fish cleaning and provide bags.
The motion passed.
Board member Budd Simpson said he supports the extension of the dock, but has found public testimony against fish cleaning to be persuasive.
Of seven board members present or on the phone, five have expressed some dissatisfaction with the project.
“I would consider just holding off on any kind of fish cleaning there and trying to enforce that as best as we can,” Simpson.
Board member Jim Becker said he would favor approving the extension and pursuing funding for removing the rock outcropping.
Board member Bob Wostmann said he cannot support the motion on the agenda.
Wostmann said a fish waste problem should be acknowledged in the motion.
“We should put that firmly in the record,” Wostmann said.
He also said the motion should clarify that the extension would only be present for one season after which someone would be tasked with gathering data.
“Without those kind of assurances, and the motion amended in that fashion, I for one would oppose it,” Wostmann said.
Board member Dave McCasland said he’d like to amend the motion so that extending the float could happen, but to include removing the fish cleaning table, posting signs discouraging fish cleaning and providing biodegradable dog bags.
Board members Chris Dimond and Bob Janes have voiced opposition for the project. It seems like a role call vote would be DOA, but we’ll see.
“I don’t think we’re ready for it,” Janes said. “I think we have a lot of studies to do.”
Public comment was tailing of, but a few more residents who live near the harbor decided to voice their opinion.
One was opposed to the project, the other was in favor.
She said fish waste is already creating a layer of slime on the water.
“I don’t know how to clean that,” Sullivan said.
Docks & Harbors Board member Bob Janes asked how enforcement would work if fish cleaning was banned at the harbor.
“Do you feel people would not be tending to clean fish if the dock was still short and there was no fish cleaning station on it?” Janes asked.
Sullivan said it has to start with education and explaining to people the problems it creates for the neighborhoods.
“It’s like anything when you’re trying to train people how to act courteously and correctly,” Sullivan said.
She also advocated for “blasting away” a rock outcropping at the harbor rather than a sign warning of the rock.
Paul Swanson is speaking in favor of extending the dock.
“I think it has to help,” he said. “If it doesn’t, take the damn thing out.”
Kaye Sullivan, a consistent opponent of the proposal, is now offering testimony.
She said the slow, shallow water in the harbor is not ideal for disposing of fish guts.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Sullivan. “It doesn’t meet best management practices for fish waste disposal.”
Sullivan said it will also be a bear attractant.
She said the board may say if the float does not improve the dock, they”ll remove it, but there has not been research into what conditions are like at the harbor now.
“As far as I can tell, there is no baseline from which to compare,” Sullivan said.
Resident Denise Chase said she thinks the board is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
She also shared a personal story of loss.
“There will be more fish cleaning, but what I really wanted to tell you is it was my dog who was killed last year by a food-conditioned bear,” Chase said. “I’d been seeing the bear around for three weeks. Bears are unpredictable.”
She asked the board not to take action that might make the problem worse.
“The bear problem is not an easy solution, there are many different things going on, all I’m asking is don’t make it any worse,” Chase said.
Alternate sites for fish cleaning have been suggested by residents, including Tee Harbor.
One resident has come out in favor of extending the dock.
He said if fish cleaning was banned at the harbor and the table was removed, people will likely clean where they’re not supposed to, but he would not oppose the table being removed.
Rick Driscoll was the first to talk this evening.
He voiced his disapproval of the project and the process that’s led up to it.
The motion for the project on tonight’s agenda is to move forward with the project, extend the float by 75 feet and keep the current single fish cleaning table in place rather than add any more cleaning stations.
The position of the neighborhood is that no fish cleaning would be ideal.
As expected, the City and Borough of Juneau Docks & Harbors Board is kicking off tonight’s meeting with discussion of an Amalga Harbor float extension.
The proposed project has been controversial with residents who live near the harbor.
About 25 people have shown up for tonight’s meeting, which coupled with some warm weather has made for a warm Assembly Chambers.