The next major project slated for the Sitka Harbor Dept. is the re-building of Crescent Harbor, located in the center of downtown. A matching state grant has been applied for, to implement the project.
If the State of Alaska is unable to fund 50% of the project, bonding will have to occur.
According Harbormaster Stan Eliason, the harbor dept. now receives 100% of the fisheries tax. Fisheries tax collected for the 2016 season was $953,323.80. There is money already appropriated for the Crescent Harbor design phase, although more is still needed for construction.
When asked about other Southeast Alaska harbor systems, Eliason says their challenges are comparable to Sitka’s. Maintenance of existing infrastructure is always an issue. Eliason would like to give Sitka docks “more free board” and “get the infrastructure out of the water, while we build up working capital. We’re simply buying time.” He would also like to see more 40-ft. boat stalls, since the harbors are used by an increasing number of 37-46ft. pleasure cruisers and commercial vessels.
Other projects on the “after Crescent” list are: upgrading Sealing Cove Harbor and Eliason (New Thomsen) Harbor. The latter, says Eliason, would be “a huge project, which is driving moorage rates even more than Crescent.” Estimated costs are projected at more than $20 million. Though just 20 years old, Eliason Harbor is “a big harbor, and big harbors take a lot of money.” That project will need to be done in phases.
Eliason has been with the Harbor Dept. for 22+ years, and has been Harbormaster since 2009. He anticipates at least seven more years on the job.
New developments include Gary Paxton Industrial Park, which will be managing their moorage and billing it out; Eliason sees them getting more involved with that as time goes on.
And finally, he notes, as a revenue-generating measure, there might be some usage fees implemented for the Eliason Harbor drive-down load dock and at the Japonski Island work float – although these proposals still need to go before the City Assembly.