Petro Marine’s building on South Nordic Drive could be converted into a harbor maintenance facility. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Borough staff will continue negotiating a potential land exchange with fuel company Petro Marine. That’s after the borough assembly Monday took its second vote this month to proceed with talks with the company. Mayor Mark Jensen had concerns about the costs of the deal.

Petro Marine proposed the exchange. The company would give land and a building it owns on South Nordic Drive just across from the community cold storage in exchange for the site of the Southeast Island Fuel gas station and a lot behind that. The harbor department wants the Petro building for a centralized site to maintain all three harbors.

Harbor board member Bob Martin said there was a real need for maintenance work in the harbors. “They can’t get a lot of their work done very efficiently the way their supplies are spread out,” Martin told the assembly. “Most of these jobs involve specialized equipment, specialized supplies. A lot of times I think they spend a lot of time rounding stuff up, doing a little bit of work and putting stuff away until the next day, or waiting for weather. And so long term I think some of the costs will be offset by the productivity of the workforce.”

Currently harbor staff do their maintenance work out of the harbor office and shipping containers located a several spots around town.

The Petro property includes the site of the old Union Oil or AFS tank farm. The site was contaminated by leaking heating oil and cleaned up. In 2012, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation signed off on the clean-up work.

The value of the Petro land is higher than the borough’s property. The company has proposed applying any payment from the borough toward the installation of a mooring dolphin near the city dock that Petro leases from the borough.

Mayor Mark Jensen wanted the topic back before the assembly in light of an assessment of the roof of the Petro building and word that the mooring dolphin might cost more than expected.

“My point for wanting to bring this back up was because of the new dollars associated with this moving forward,” Jensen exaplined. “I understand we did give the manager direction to negotiate with Petro and the next step in that negotiation would be spending money on appraisals, I’m assuming. So before we started going down the road where more money was spent, in my mind, even making it a more expensive proposition I thought I would put it back on the agenda.”

Some community members and assembly members have concerns with the price tag for converting the Petro building into a harbor maintenance building and want to look into other options. The harbor board and staff say they’ve looked into other possibilities and this is the least costly in the most convenient location.

Assembly member Jeff Meucci and others wanted to let borough manager Steve Giesbrecht proceed with negotiations. “Eventually Steve’s going to bring back his findings and his ideas on what the negotiations and how it’s going and what he’s thinking but as far as I’m concerned the will of the assembly has been to move forward on this and we’ll just see how the negotiation plays out,” Meucci said.

The vote was 4-3 earlier this month to proceed with negotiations. This time around it was 5-2 with Jensen and Brandi Marohl voting no.”