City discusses harbor improvement plan

Posted: Sunday, January 07, 2001

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- A long-term improvement plan for Dillingham harbor includes a lease lot project for commercial development and possible expansion of the harbor.

The plan, estimated to cost $823,000, involves developing city-owned land along the east side of the harbor next to the PAF boat yard. The improved land would then be leased to businesses.

The number of lots is still to be decided upon, but could range from six, seven-tenth-acre sites to 12 smaller lots.

''If we go with smaller lots, then someone can lease multiple lots,'' City Planner John Fulton said.

The city plans to control what type of development occurs, either through a covenant or zoning, ensuring that all the lots will be equally appealing to lease.

The site would be improved with water and sewer utilities and fire hydrants, which would benefit fishermen by reducing their cost of boat insurance.

Currently, boats are tied together in long rafts and can swing back and forth in the wind and current, hitting other boats. The commission discussed reorienting the floats so that both sides of the floats could be used and limiting the number of boats that have to be tied together.

''Even if there's not room for more boats, it will be safer,'' Fulton said. ''As it is, it's a real fire hazard.''

Fulton said the city expects to make better use of the existing parking area and expand parking spaces opposite the lots.

The commission also discussed expanding the harbor to the west to hold more or bigger boats. Fulton, however, warned that the city would have to proceed cautiously with such a plan because it would cost Dillingham the appropriation that pays the Corps of Engineers to dredge the harbor annually. If the harbor expanded, the Corps would dredge only the entrance and the city would be responsible for the rest. It costs between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.

''It's a big benefit to the city. Dillingham is one of a few cities still getting free dredging,'' Fulton said.

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