Bad odors and bear activity concern residents

    Juneau City Hall.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Residents continued to have concerns over proposed improvements at Amalga Harbor.

    30 people attended the public hearing at City Hall before the CBJ Docks and Harbors Board.

    The comments against the project caused the Board to decide they needed more time before making a decision.

    Port Director Carl Uchytil said improvements at Amalga Harbor have been considered for two years.  The main problem was congestion and safety.  They have held three public meetings to get input and comments.

    The proposed project includes a new 75 by 12-foot fish cleaning float at the end of the Amalga Harbor boarding float and a private aid to navigation daymark to warn mariners of a rock hazard.  A $280,000 Alaska Department of Fish and Game grant has been offered for the project.   The estimated price tag is $378,000.

    The facility operates at maximum capacity on sunny, summer days.  There is no CBJ staff within 20 miles.  There are also no CBJ utilities available.  Many of the problems are caused by the number of fishermen wanting to clean fish and the amount of time it takes.

    Many fish species must be brought to shore for cleaning per Alaska law. 

    Residents have complained about bear activity, fish carcasses, and bad odors from the current facility.  Many pushed for signage and providing carcass bags to encourage proper disposal.  Some support a CBJ ordinance to ban the disposal of fish waste in the harbor.  Many are hopeful providing carcass bags could encourage anglers to dispose of the fish waste elsewhere. 

    Many worry additional facilities will attract even more anglers leading to more backups.  Some suggest finding another harbor capable of handling a fish cleaning station like Statter Harbor.

    Kay Sullivan said bear activity is common there with 15 bears spotted this year.  She said feeding bears make them aggressive and put people at risk.  She added hunters often dump deer carcasses at the harbor during hunting season.

    "We are respectful of the bears and we don't feed them, the CBJ does," she added.

    Steve Radford said the removal of the fish cleaning station will lead to even more waste as fishermen clean the fish on their boats and dump the waste on the ground.  He supported the project.

    Ryan Beason of Territorial Sportsmen suggested removal of the fish cleaning station for one summer as a trial to see how it works.

    Others suggested using Auke Bay while others urged the CBJ to put more resources into the harbor for a long term fix.

    Dennis Watson said there are irresponsible citizens in many harbors.  "That is not the norm, that is the exception.  More signs mean less reading.  If Amalga is getting that much busier it is time to charge for parking and to launch boats."

    Board member Bob Wostmann suggested they try an experiment with one season of no fish cleaning at Amalga.

    Board member Bob Janes suggested the use of Statter Harbor.  "We have room and we could make it a first-class operation."

    Board member Mark Ridgway said more study is needed on other options.  "I'm not comfortable saying no to the fish cleaning station if it were an emergency.  We have some time here.  The issues are not at a critical junction that something serious is going to happen."

    The matter was referred to the Docks and Harbors Operations Committee for further review.

    In other actions:

    The Board approved a $131,103 contract with PND Engineers to conduct master planning for small cruise ships.  Staff reported the increase in small cruise ships have adversely impacted and strained Docks and Harbors' ability to provide suitable dock space to industry users.  The plan would examine the future needs of the small cruise ship industry and develop a master plan to meet those needs. 

    The study would focus on small commercial passenger vessels less than 275 feet in length.  The study will also consider several locations for new or expanded facilities including Juneau Harbor, the NOAA dock, Little Rock Dump, Aurora Harbor, Harris Harbor, D&H managed tidelands in the vicinity of Gold Creek, Don D. Statter Harbor, and the Auke Bay Marine Station.


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