Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The City and Borough of Juneau Docks and Harbors Board voted unanimously Thursday on a motion to begin the process of impounding the Lumberman tugboat, with a provision that all future actions need to come before the board.
An initial plan involved sending a proposed letter, written by Port Director Carl Uchytil, to the Alaska Attorney General asking for help with impounding or removing the Lumberman tugboat from Gastineau Channel.
In the memo, Uchytil wrote to the Attorney General that the Lumberman should qualify as a derelict vessel under Alaska law, and that it is currently obstructing the waterway of the channel.
Uchytil had suggested that if the AG did not act on the request, other avenues are available to remove the tugboat. One of those options was to ask the Alaska state government about the issue, or to get together with the Juneau delegation to address the vessel.
“There are no good answers here,” Uchytil said. “Nobody wants to touch because if you touch it, you own it, and that is a six-figure issue … but I think we have the authority to impound it.”
The vessel is currently stranded in tidelands controlled by the Department of Natural Resources. The vessel has become a safety concern in the Gastineau Channel north of the bridge to Douglas Island.
Uchytil said DNR received a $200K quote from an outside party to tow the vessel to Hoonah for its decommissioning.
Member Jim Becker suggested an open public bid on the boat to get it a new owner who would remove it, while member Weston Eiler, citing direction from the CBJ Assembly, said the board should task staff with finding the most cost-effective way of disposal.
Uchytil said if the vessel is impounded, it could be offered for sale, possibly with a caveat that it leaves the CBJ.
Uchytil said the current owner, Brendan Mattson, has never used the Juneau harbor system.
During the meeting member Budd Simpson moved that the borough should initiate proceedings to impound the vessel.
"While the impound process is taking its course we can figure out what happens after,” Simpson said. “It gives us legal control.”
Eiler and member Mark Ridgway objected on financial grounds.
“I would suggest that the moment we remove it, we likely also remove much hope of combining other folks to help with the cost,” Eiler said.
Uchytil also provided an update on the Cruise Lines International lawsuit, saying the city manager could soon post the requests for uses of marine passenger fees, in accordance with a recent federal court ruling.
The board also directed Uchytil to have staff develop a plan on whether adding a 305-square-foot space extension to the People’s Wharf area of Tracy’s King Crab Shack is prudent. The lessee, William Heumann, asked the board for additional outdoor seating in the right of way.
The next board meeting is set for Thursday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.