Petersburg’s borough assembly wants to wait on adding more to the drive-down dock project underway in South Harbor this year. The harbor master and harbor board asked the assembly to add a loading bulkhead back into the plans but assembly members Monday voted to put that decision off until later this year.
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The winning bid on the drive down dock was $7.8 million, and it left about $1.9 million in state funding unused, at least for the time being. The harbor board asked the borough assembly to use the remaining funds on a 120-foot bulkhead right next to the planned vehicle accessible drive down dock. The board sought assembly approval on funding the design for that loading space.

Petersburg Vessel Owners Association executive director Brian Lynch urged the assembly to fund the work. He thought the loading area would help attract new vessels to come to Petersburg and would aid boats already homeported here. “We have the money for a facility, let’s use it for that purpose and build the best possible facility we can,” Lynch said.

Former harbor board member Kurt Wohlhueter is now on the assembly. He said the bulkhead has been a part of the plans since it started but it was dropped in an attempt to stay within the project’s budget. “So these have always been on the plans,” Wohlhueter said. “You can go back to 1994 to present and every single concept even though there might be close to nine of ‘em have always had a bulkhead involved in it. And when we put the cold storage, I want to reiterate this one more time, was so that we could access it from the water at some point, without having to drive through town. Don’t cut the cold storage off at its ankles if we have a chance to be able to provide an opportunity for ‘em.”

Angela Denning/KFSK

Work on the drive down dock started up this winter. It will be constructed at the end of a rock filled area next to the public cold storage. The bulkhead is planned for one side of that rock filled parking lot.

Assembly member John Havrilek wanted to wait on going forward with the addition, “’til our other projects are complete, until April, when the legislature is adjourned. So we know one, where we better stand, with the projects are complete and how much the actual costs are, the final costs are and the other is to see what the state’s giving us for any projects,” Havrilek said. “And so I move to table the discussion until then.”

The borough is also rebuilding North Harbor this year, widening the crane dock and some other smaller dock improvements. Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht struck a cautionary tone on spending the remaining money.

“From a conservative financial standpoint I would say you may not wanna spend your contingency money until these projects are complete,” Giesbrecht said. “It doesn’t mean these projects couldn’t be done at that point in time. But reality is it’s much easier to reallocate money from one harbor project to another than it is to move it elsewhere.”

The assembly voted unanimously to table the issue to its second meeting in September.