A Sitka-based marine salvage contractor is offering to buy the utility dock at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park for the cost of repairs.
Hanson Maritime Co. has submitted a proposal to purchase the dock for $100,000 in estimated repair expenses.
In his proposal, company principal Lee Hanson writes, “We are proposing to relieve the City of Sitka of the liability, place it on the tax rolls, and create new jobs.”
The utility dock was constructed by the Alaska Pulp Corporation Mill in 1958. In a 2009 memo to the board of directors of what was then known as The Sawmill Cove Industrial Park, director Garry White said that the most recent inspection of the structure occurred in the 1990s, and that most of the original pilings were then showing signs of significant wear. In the same memo, White noted that a 1977 engineering inspection — while the mill was still in operation — gave the dock only 11 more years of useful life at the time. Although APC made repairs, most of the work has long since deteriorated.
Hanson Maritime hopes to refurbish the dock and use it to moor its salvage barge, crane, and tugs. The company has performed a number of high-profile salvages recently, including the tugboat Powhatan, which sank in Starrigavan Bay in April, 2017, and was subsequently raised.
In his offer to the park board, Hanson writes that having all his resources in one location would improve his company’s salvage, towing, and oil spill response. He wants to build a welding and machine shop on the site, and bring a barge to Sitka which he currently stores in Hoonah.
Hanson is also aware that a similar disposal of public waterfront in 2008 met with some public opposition. The Sitka Assembly at the time sold the former pulp dock and warehouse to newly-organized processor, Silver Bay Seafoods, for $1-million, but credited the funds back to Silver Bay for repairs to the dilapidated pulp dock.
In his proposal, Hanson suggests that the utility dock is a “negative asset.” He writes, “Hanson Maritime is not proposing to receive past precedence in which we would receive the dock and funds for its repair.”
The board of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park will review Hanson’s proposal at its next meeting at 3 pm Monday, December 3, in the Sitka Economic Development Association conference room upstairs in the Troutt Center.