Nikiski park could cost more than expected

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- Construction of an industrial park in Nikiski could cost far more than expected.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly learned last week the cost of a park and dock complex could run between $20.7 million and $41.5 million, compared to initial estimates of $12 million to $29 million.

A preliminary draft of an industrial park feasibility study released earlier this month provided the borough with three possible park locations and three different levels of development, along with the lower estimated costs.

But the final version of the study presented last week by the feasibility study's authors, the Anchorage-based Northern Eco-nomics Inc., recalculated the costs based on revised dock costs and trestle works capable of reaching at least 40 feet of water.

The dock, terminal buildings, fuel depots, water and waste water service and temporary staging and storage areas ''could significantly increase land-use requirements'' of the industrial park, Northern's study said, citing the higher estimates.

Those figures do not include the cost of acquiring the land.

The $75,000 feasibility study proposed three sites as possible locations for a park. They included a site on Cook Inlet Region Inc. land just south of the Agrium Plant, another at the old Chevron refinery north of Agrium, and a third location near the old Arness Dock near Nikiski Middle-Senior High School.

Cal Kerr, Northern's project manager for the feasibility study, said original estimates had different trestle lengths at different locations. Following testimony at a public hearing in Nikiski, engineers went back to the drawing boards and developed estimates based on a common water depth of 40 feet, the Peninsula Clarion reported.

In addition, Kerr said, the per-square-foot cost of the business ends of those trestles -- the actual docks themselves -- were determined to be too low, so estimates of those costs were increased. The combined effect of the revisions, Kerr said, produced the new and higher numbers.

Construction of a park and a deep-water dock isn't going to happen overnight, and likely not for many years, assembly member Gary Superman said. The study will prove useful nevertheless, he said.

Kerr agreed a dock project may not be feasible now, but it would become so as time went on.

''There's no magic wand or pixie dust,'' Kerr said. ''But I have no difficulty in seeing that happening by the end of 2020.''

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