The Alaska Mental Health Trust land office is proposing to put land at Papke’s Landing south of Petersburg up for sale this winter. That includes several parcels near the public road and boat ramp that have drawn the interest of Petersburg borough officials this year. Representatives with the trust say, if the parcels are put up for sale, the borough can bid for them along with everyone else.
Petersburg sent a letter to the trust land office this summer asking to delay the sale of three parcels at Papke’s Landing, in hopes that the borough could find a way to purchase or otherwise exchange for the land. The boat ramp and dock there are 10 miles south of Petersburg and they’re a landing spot for people boating to remote homes and cabins in the area along with fishing fleets and recreational boaters.
Mental Health Trust lands office executive director Marcie Menefee said Petersburg had earlier applied to purchase the three parcels directly from the Trust but did not follow through. “At some point the borough indicated the purchase wasn’t as high a priority as other things they were doing with the existing budget they had and it was determined that that transaction wouldn’t move ahead,” she said. “Now, all that being said, the borough has an opportunity to try to acquire these same parcels through the sale this winter, just like everybody else that has an interest.”
The parcel’s in what’s called the Seaduck subdivision were slated to be part of a fall land sale by the trust. However Menefee said all seven pieces of land there were pulled from that sale this fall. “We looked closer at the sale and realized we hadn’t completed our administrative process. And that’s defined in regulation. That included writing a decision and noticing that decision. And that was simply an error on our part. So we happened to pull them because we looked at them when we were receiving input from someone at the borough level.”
The land office has since come out with a best interest decision to put the land up for sale and that’s currently in a public comment period. “After that period of time, we will consider comments and either affirm or rescind our decision to dispose of the property,” Menefee said. “And if we determine it’s in the best interest of the trust to dispose of these parcels, they will be included in the winter sale.”
Menefee noted that the parcels could not be selected by the new borough of Petersburg as part of its borough formation. And she said an exchange for the three lots is also not likely. “The laws that are on the books make a land exchange very onerous for a state agency. And it probably in my opinion wouldn’t be worth the effort to try and exchange such a small amount of land. It’s simply not nearly as neat and tidy as a sale.”
Petersburg officials have expressed interest in three lots in the Seaduck subdivision, totaling a little over an acre and a half next to the road. They could be used for expansion of the parking area and have been valued at 110-thousand dollars.
Earlier this fall assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor urged his colleagues to consider purchasing the land. “I think we should consider that as something that would be really viable for our community. Not talking about now but down the line. It’s valuable property. The cost of it is definitely significant. Thinking long term in terms of harbor development, I really could see those being a great resource for our community and for the harbor system.”
Other assembly members have not sounded too eager to spend money on the purchase.
The boat launch ramp and dock at Papke’s are owned by two state agencies, the Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources. The state is interested in transferring the dock to Petersburg but is awaiting the results of a court appeal on Petersburg’s borough boundaries that could impact another remote state-owned dock.
If the Mental Health parcels are put up for sale, that bid period will likely start sometime in December and run into March.
The Trust land office’s 30-day comment period on putting the land up for sale lasts through December 5 at 4:30 p.m. There’s more information here.