State blocks $15 million Hoonah dock grant

A cruise ship lightering boat loads passengers at the Icy Strait Point Dock in Hoonah. The state says a new $15-million dock won’t be funded unless its location is changed. File photo.

State officials say they’ll withdraw funding for a $15 million Hoonah dock unless the Southeast city changes the facility’s location.

The money was appropriated by the Legislature, in part to support the town’s Icy Strait Point tourist attraction, 40 air miles west of Juneau.

Community and Regional Affairs Director Scott Ruby sent a letter earlier this month threatening to take away the grant. He also put a hold on any project spending.

He says it’s because the cruise industry doesn’t like the dock’s location.

“The primary use was going to be a cruise ship dock. But also, when it’s not being used for a cruise ship dock, it would be constructed such that it could be used for other purposes (such as) freight and ferries and whatever. It’s a multiuse dock,” he says.

Two other proposed locations are acceptable to the industry, as well as Native village corporation Huna Totem, which developed Icy Strait Point.

The state made a similar threat more than a year ago, but the conflict was not resolved.

 Hoonah City Administrator Bob Prunella says officials won’t comment until they meet with the state. That’s scheduled to happen Thursday, Aug. 29.

Sitka’s Bert Stedman represents Hoonah in the Senate. He says local leaders need to decide whether to move ahead.

“I think it’s a good idea for Hoonah to have a dock. But you need to build facilities that will help the industry prosper and move forward with the community,” he says.

Hoonah has about two weeks to respond to the state. Officials will then decide whether to block funding.

The original legislative grant was for $17 million. Lawmakers last spring diverted $2 million to a clinic project approved by Hoonah leaders.

Stedman diverted another $5 million to a swimming pool at the state’s Mount Edgecumbe boarding high school in Sitka. Governor Sean Parnell vetoed that provision, saying the money should stay in Hoonah.

Hear or read an earlier report on the the dock issue: Hoonah dock project sparks controversy. 

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