SOLDOTNA (AP) -- Seldovia and the Seldovia Village Tribe are splitting millions of dollars in an effort to attract new industry to this historic seaport.
The two are using the bulk of $2.8 million in federal grants to knock down an abandoned fish plant and renovate its dock in hopes of finding a buyer. Some of the money will be spent on a museum for Native artifacts and the town's first visitor center.
''We definitely need some economic development in Seldovia,'' said Crystal Collier, the tribe's executive director. ''It's a great project for the city and tribe to work together.''
Town leaders expect to spend $1.45 million to buy the derelict fish plant from its current owner, a California man who allowed the facility to fall into ruin, and repair the 3.6-acre dock that it stands on. The property is the last available land in the city zoned for industry.
''It's a fair chunk of land in such a small town,'' said Rod Hilts, director of the Seldovia Chamber of Commerce.
The hope is that a clean, renovated dock in the heart of the town of about 300 people will attract sorely needed industry to an area where commercial fishing and, lately, tourism drive the economy.
Nobody knows what or who might be interested in investing in the restored dock. Right now, the focus is on buying back the old cannery and beginning the fish plant's demolition next spring, said Seldovia Mayor Sue Hecks.
Ideas for development include a collection of tourist-oriented shops, a Coast Guard facility, a seafood farming plant, a place for marine-based research or even a manufacturing plant for kelp-based toothpaste, Hecks said.
The old seafood plant, built after the 1964 earthquake, was once Seldovia's showpiece. In its heyday, it employed 100 people, but it fell into bankruptcy in the early 1990s and hasn't operated in years.
Three years ago, its roof caved in, and city officials started worrying that it was more than just an eyesore. Ammonia, Freon and other chemicals were stored inside. It was a fire risk, and the dock it was built on was starting to rot.
City leaders have tried to order the cannery's owner, Deepak Stokes of Eureka, Calif., to do something about it. Stokes cleaned up the chemicals, but city leaders still worried that someone might fall through a rotting plank on the dock.
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