Petersburg’s borough assembly gave the go-ahead Monday on several more construction projects. The biggest is a new loading bulkhead for the drive down dock in South Harbor.

Petersburg’s drive down dock was finished a year ago, using state grant money. The harbor was left with one point two million dollars from that project and will use that money to add another loading space on the rock filled parking lot leading out to the dock. That will give fishing boats and other vessels another spot to load and unload gear.

Tamico, the company that built the dock itself was the low bidder on the bulkhead for over one point three million dollars, with all three alternatives. Those will mean additional fender piles, ladders and dredging to allow deeper draft vessels to use the bulkhead. The low bid is below the engineer’s estimate of nearly 1.5 million dollars. Bids from three other companies ranged from $1.4 million to $1.7 million.

Assembly members questioned harbor master Glorianne Wollen about leaving off some the alternatives. She explained that the borough would have to pay more in the long run for the cost of a contractor mobilizing equipment to come back and build additional parts of the project in the future. “Both of those would be considerably more expensive cause you’d have to get the equipment here, pay double essentially for that part of it,” Wollen explained. “So it’s a good bang for your buck doing it all now.”

Petersburg's drive down dock was dedicated in May of 2015. The new bulkhead loading area will be built on the rock-filled area leading up to the float. (KFSK file photo)

Petersburg’s drive down dock was dedicated in May of 2015. The new bulkhead loading area will be built on the rock-filled area leading up to the float. (KFSK file photo)

The part of the project not covered by the state grant will be paid for with harbor department reserves. That was a concern for assembly member Bob Lynn. “My concern is we aren’t replenishing what’s there with what we’re spending out of the reserves,” Lynn said. “Then the other variable I see is the fish tax, is that we don’t right now know what’s going to happen with our budget with the fish tax. We may lose the whole thing from the state, we just don’t know.” Some of the raw fish tax the state pays to the borough each year is paid to the harbor department.

Harbor board member John Murgas called the bulkhead a safe investment that would allow large cranes to work right on the waterfront. “The capacity that this harbor would have for many, many decades with that type of facility has tremendous value,” Murgas said. “It’s 50, 60, 70 years from now that’s still probably going to be functional.”

Assembly member Kurt Wohlhueter said the site could be used for removing bait sheds from fishing boats and thought the assembly should award the full contract. “Again it’s never going to be cheaper,” Wohlhueter said. “I always wanted to see it bigger and I think this is a good compromise. Even though I understand we’re trying to be fiscally conservative but I think this is a time we can’t afford to wait to do this project.”

The vote was 5-0 to approve the bid award to Tamico. The assembly also approved a contract with PND Engineers for oversight of the bulkhead project. Work is expected to start this year and could be finished by the end of October.

Assembly members also awarded a nearly 70,000 contract to Peak Signals of Juneau for construction of a new 55-foot communications tower for police, fire and emergency services. That tower will go up at the new fire hall and will be mostly paid for with a Department of Homeland Security grant.

CBC Construction of Sitka was awarded a contract for 574,000 dollars for sewer line and pump station work along South Nordic Drive. That’s being paid for with grant and loan money from the state.

The borough has also started preparing some local streets for paving this summer. And borough manager Steve Giesbrecht reported that paving company Secon will be back in town this month and re-starting the state road paving project before the end of March. “Sounds like what they’re gonna start on is the concrete between basically this intersection and the bridge,” he explained, referring to the intersection of Haugen and Nordic drives. “And hopefully that gets done soon. They will start their public information campaign to let the public know what lanes will be blocked and when and the schedule. We’re looking forward to the bridge being a little less bumpy.”

Assembly members also supported the borough manager’s request to seek an on-site administrator to oversee the renovation of the municipal building and police station. Borough staffers have already started to move some of the artwork and furniture out of the municipal building to get ready for the renovation. Borough offices will be transferred to the Petersburg Indian Association building during the week of April 18. The assembly decided to cancel their meeting that week and will only have one meeting next month, April 4th.