Boats returned in March to the newly-rebuilt ANB Harbor in Sitka, but wasn’t until just last week that local officials cut the ribbon on the project. KCAW’s Greta Mart attended the ceremony, to learn what people thought of the finished product.
Marcus Lee of Leecraft made the new archway and sign that now marks the entrance to the marina, installed last Wednesday. He said it took him about three weeks to build.
“It’s all done with a Scotch Brite and a grinder and the colors are stained, except for the mountain, which is is stainless and it’s heat colored, with a torch,” said Lee.
In 2012, the Alaskan legislature approved up to $4.25 million in state funds to help completely rebuild Sitka’s Alaska Native Brotherhood Harbor. City staff estimate the total cost of the job was $7.5 million.
Mayor Mim McConnell was pleased with the outcome.
“ANB Harbor has been heavily used by the fishing fleet since it was built. It really really badly needed to be replaced so what’s there now is such a huge improvement over what they were putting up with for so many years,” said Mayor Mim McConnell.
ANB Harbor was built in 1956, although almost all of the docks and floats torn out over this past winter were installed in 1974, with bits and pieces updated in the 1990s. The State of Alaska deeded ANB Harbor to the City and Borough of Sitka in 1992.
Two years ago, the city’s master plan described the condition of ANB as fair to poor, with just five more years to go before it became unsafe and unusable.
“I’ve been here over 50 years and I don’t remember them ever doing any major work to the old ANB Harbor. It’s really nice, everything is brand new,” said Michael Baines, the Chairman of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. He joined Mayor McConnell, state senator Bert Stedman, and city staff for the ribbon cutting. Stedman said he was pleased with the rebuild and plans to keep working on funding local projects.
“There’s still some discussion on how we’re going to upgrade the waterfront over the next decade or so, we’re going to have a build-out down by the Centennial Building so we’re going to clean that up. So we’re not done,” said Stedman.
Besides the 92 commercial vessels moored here, the newly-built harbor will soon accommodate two float houses. Last month the Sika Assembly approved a pilot project to see if floating homes will be a workable solution for affordable housing in Sitka.
But a brand-new harbor comes with a price. Moorage for boats here is now slightly less affordable.
“I want to say thank you to my customers, we had to displace them for a number of months and they’ve been really great to work with,” said Sitka Harbormaster Stan Eliason. Eliason said fees in the new ANB Harbor are now $2.80 a foot, and will rise incrementally over the next few years.
But, as he washed down his deck, the captain of the fishing vessel Yentna said he was couldn’t be happier with his new and improved digs.
“I love the new dock…I was displaced when they tore it out and had to go wwayyyy out to the end of Eliason so yeah, I got my old spot back and the docks are higher so it’s way easier to step onto the boats…they are pretty nice,” the captain said.
Nice, as long as you don’t need to take a shower.
“That’s the one thing that they did not improve, was the bathroom facility and unfortunately it’s just as bad as it ever was.”