The long-delayed sale of the old utility dock at Sitka’s industrial park is being delayed again, over concerns about the possible moorage of large ships at the brand new industrial dock next door. 

The Sitka Assembly was expected to finalize the sale of the former pulp mill utility dock to Hanson Maritime, when it met in regular session on Tuesday (10-8-19). . But the owner, Lee Hanson, still had some issues with the sale contract, primarily involving the park’s  plan to expand the capacity of its new multi-use dock to accommodate large ships..  

“I’m going to read a line here- it says “Shall vacate all vessels from the Hanson property during the birthing of a large vessel at the multi-purpose dock.” 

 A motion to go into executive session to discuss the issue failed 2-4 with assembly members Richard Wein, Valorie Nelson, Steven Eisenbeisz, and Mayor Gary Paxton opposed.

With the matter now on the table in open session, public works director Michael Harmon said the project to increase the capacity of the floating dock was a long-term goal of the park’s board, in the hope of being able to moor large ships — even the neopanamax-class of vessel that one day could carry bulk water. But several assembly members, including Valorie Nelson, questioned a sale agreement with so many stipulations.

“I don’t give a rat’s rump about cruise ship docs or whatever and I don’t think that the public at large wants cruise ship or anything like that out there,” she said. “If we’re selling the property to him, we need to make sure he has unrestricted access.”

Ultimately the assembly took no action on the contract. Members encouraged the municipal attorney to continue negotiations with Hanson Maritime.

In other business Tuesday night, the assembly nominated several people for seats on a SEARHC/Sitka Community Health Council. Two were former Sitka Community Hospital board members, David Lam and Maryann Hall. Two were city staff — chief administrative officer Jay Sweeney and fire chief Dave Miller. Assembly member Richard Wein was the fifth.

During persons-to-be-heard on Wein’s nomination, Maggie Gallin, who is member Kevin Knox’s spouse, questioned if more information should be provided to the public before Wein was appointed. 

“I just wanted to express concern about Richard Wein’s past history working at SEARHC and I just was wondering whether any disclosures need to be made about the nature of his departure from SEARHC as that may affect his role on the commission,” Gallin asked.

Wein said he’d signed a non-disclosure agreement with SEARHC which prohibited him from discussing his departure. And he said, if appointed to the council, his medical expertise would be an asset.  

“I’m sure you didn’t read the asset purchase agreement and what this board constitutes- but believe it or not, it’s for all Sitkans, especially the Sitka side- my notion is to serve all of Sitka. But equally the Sitka side because I was most recently on the Sitka Community Hospital staff,” he said. “So my notion is with my knowledge is I feel I can perform a very good service for the city by my knowledge of medical issues.”

Ultimately the assembly voted 6-1 to appoint Wein with Knox opposed.

And finally, on Tuesday Sitka’s new assembly appointed member Steven Eisenbeisz as its deputy mayor, and Kevin Mosher as vice deputy mayor, and named assembly liaisons to various commissions and boards. 

— recognized Indigenous People’s Day, and presented a service award to Woody Widmark for his time on the Parks and Recreation Commission. 

–considered closed captioning options for assembly meetings. 

-And went behind closed doors to discuss the $637,000 debt owed to the city by Baranof Island Brewing Company, which recently defaulted on two municipal loans. When the group returned from executive session, no action was taken on the matter.