The Alaska Department of Transportation has said no to Petersburg’s request for taking over two remote state-owned docks but could come back with another offer in the future. The municipality is waiting on making another decision on the issue.
A December 5th letter from the DOT’s state ports and harbors engineer Michael Lukshin says the state is unable to meet the terms and conditions of transfer requested by the borough. The state has offered three docks, one at Entrance Island in Hobart Bay on the mainland, one at Papke’s Landing or Mitkof Island 10 miles south of Petersburg and one at Kupreanof, directly across the Wrangell Narrows. The offer included 732,883 dollars to do maintenance work on the floats. In November Petersburg’s assembly decided to decline the dock at Entrance Island but agreed to accept two other docks, at Papke’s Landing and Kupreanof, if the state paid one point two million dollars for maintenance work.

The state dock on Kupreanof is across the Wrangell Narrows from Petersburg's three harbors. (KFSK file photo)

The state dock on Kupreanof is across the Wrangell Narrows from Petersburg’s three harbors. (KFSK file photo)

At a meeting MOnday, December 5th, Petersburg mayor Mark Jensen discussed the letter with the borough assembly and said he also had a chance to speak with the state official. “I think Mr. Lukshin was kinda surprised when we asked for 1.2 million dollars and I said well that’s just what the assembly feels we need if we’re gonna take these facilities over and be responsible for them,” Jensen explained. “In that conversation he said, well there’s money in the fund, in their coffers, whatever you wanna call it, to give us more money they’d have to take it from somebody else.”

The state’s letter notes the borough’s request is more than the state offered. Lukshin also questioned the borough’s plan to transfer the Kupreanof dock to the city of Kupreanof and said removing Entrance Island from the deal will mean a reduction in the money the state will pay.

DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow later Monday clarified that the letter is rejecting the offer from the borough. However, he said the original offer from the state is still on the table through the end of this month. “And the borough has the option to accept that offer,” Woodrow said. “If they don’t that doesn’t mean that this work in progress is over, it means that the state and the borough can still revisit this issue and try to come to an agreement in the future it just obviously right now the state and the borough have different goals in mind and we can’t reach an agreement but we still are working toward that.”

Assembly member Bob Lynn suggested thinking about the issue some more and waiting until the next meeting to make a decision.

The state offered the Kupreanof dock to that city in 2010 pending legislative approval. That approval didn’t happen at that time. Kupreanof mayor Tom Reinarts said his city is still interested in taking over that dock and he thinks the transfer of both facilities needs to happen. “I understand the challenges to take Papke’s Landing but the borough has the responsibility,” Reinarts said by phone. “They took on, the city of Petersburg took on the responsibilities of a borough. And that means they have to take care of the needs of the borough. They can’t continue to focus on service area one.”

Service area one is the old city limits of Petersburg. Both docks are outside of that area and are used by visitors along with residents and boaters from both inside and outside the old city limits. Petersburg’s assembly is concerned with the condition of the floats and the money needed to bring the facilities to a good condition. A consultant for the borough figured both floats needed to be replaced for a combined price tag of two and a half million dollars.