The Sitka Assembly shored up the sale of a utility dock to a marine salvage firm. But the specific terms of the deal won’t be released until the contract is signed by both parties. 

The Gary Paxton Industrial Park is selling a derelict dock to Sitka-based Hanson Maritime Company. 

Company owner Lee Hanson told the Assembly on Tuesday evening that the terms were nearly set, save a few minor details. 

“There’s a small section that I have some issue with too, but I don’t think that’s something that couldn’t be dealt with tonight, it’s fairly minor,” said Hanson.

Hanson said he was fine discussing the contract in public. But the agenda had called for that to take place in an executive session. Several on the Assembly questioned if one was needed —  Aaron Bean was among them. 

“We get a lot of comments about what we talk about behind closed doors,” he said. “If there’s nothing to hide then I don’t see the point.” 

The city attorney advised that business negotiations should be behind closed doors. The reasoning is that the city’s finances are sensitive and the Assembly should be free to speak candidly. 

Mayor Gary Paxton agreed. 

“It would be more efficient to go into executive session,” he said. “My preference is to go into executive session and get it done.” 

“I understand the reasons for wanting to discuss what the city’s position is, and maybe some of the liability the city is facing with this contract, privately with the attorney,” said Sitka Sentinel reporter Shannon Haugland during public testimony.

“I would prefer that the discussions with Mr. Hanson take place in public, or that he makes his comments in public,” she continued. “It seems like having both sides of the negotiation behind closed doors just doesn’t look good. Efficiency is not a reason to go into executive session.” 

In the end, the assembly heard Hanson’s term objections and negotiated with him behind closed doors. The body voted 4-2 to move to executive session with assembly members Richard Wein and Kevin Mosher opposed.

An hour later the Assembly emerged and directed city staff to move forward with a final contract.

It wasn’t the only closed door deliberations on Tuesday evening. A lawsuit brought by former Sitka police detective Ryan Silva over allegations that SPD broke state procurement laws when it bought automatic guns is set for mediation. Earlier this month Silva’s attorneys indicated the case might not go to trial. The city denies the claims and no action was taken by the Assembly which conferred with its attorney for about 15 minutes. 

And in other business, the assembly, on a split vote, advanced a motion to spend $150,000 on electrical repairs to the former Sitka Community Hospital building that SEARHC is leasing from the city. That advanced on first reading on a 3-3 vote with assembly members Bean, Richard Wein and Valorie Nelson opposed.

The Assembly also:

  • Voted 6-0 to approve receipt of an $842,629 grant from the FAA to complete an environmental assessment for the new Sitka Seaplane Base, still in its planning stages.
  • Voted 6-0 to appoint Al Stevens and Mike Johnson to unexpired terms on the GPIP Board of Directors, appoint Stacy Mudry to a three year term on the planning commission, and to reappoint Joshua Thomas and Charles Woodcock to three year terms on the Library Commission and Health Needs and Human Services Commission, respectively.
  • The body honored Sitka Community Hospital board members and Library Commission member Alice Johnstone with service awards.
  • It approved moving $1.2 million in committed funds that weren’t spent in FY19 to the FY20 budget.
  • It approved the recommendations from the assembly “position” subcommittee to allow for the hiring of a tax specialist.