The City and Borough of Juneau’s Docks & Harbors department is seeking suggestions from the public for the most cost-effective way to dispose of the Lumberman. The tugboat is anchored on state tidelands across from Egan Drive.
Port Director Carl Uchytil and his team met with representatives of local salvage companies Thursday morning to discuss ideas, but they’re willing to hear from anyone by the May 3 deadline.
Uchytil said he’s also been hearing unsolicited suggestions from members of the public for months.
“Somebody said we should burn it on the Fourth of July. Another one said we should use it as a pirate ship at Twin Lakes. Another one, that maybe is viable, is they thought that it’s becoming kind of an iconic figure, and keep it in place but maybe put flowers on it or, you know, kind of spruce it up a bit,” Uchytil said.
He said any option they pursue will of course have to be legal and environmentally sound. That means burning the boat or blowing it up are probably off the table.
The Lumberman also still has an owner: Juneau resident Brenden Mattson, who Uchytil said is not in a position to take care of the problem. The city would need his permission before disposing of the boat.
Although Docks & Harbors originally said sinking the boat somewhere offshore would not be considered, Uchytil said that’s now back on the table.
The city has no money budgeted for the disposal. If the costs are too high, they may decide to do nothing. It’s not blocking a waterway or causing any known issues right now.
“There might be a maximum (cost) that we just say we’re not going to pursue it,” Uchytil said. “It’s too costly, it’s safe where it’s at, it’s riding well on the anchor, we monitor it — that is a possibility.”
The U.S. Coast Guard removed hazardous materials from the Lumberman last year.
The city borrowed an anchor to secure the boat, which hasn’t moved much since last May when it floated north up the channel from Aurora Harbor. The city also hired a salvage company to pump water off the boat earlier this year to keep it from listing too much.
The city has maintained that the Lumberman is the state’s responsibility, since it’s anchored on Alaska Department of Natural Resources land.
Docks & Harbors sent a letter to the state attorney general’s office asking them to pursue legal action against the owner. They declined.
Uchytil said they’re being proactive because they don’t want a repeat of the situation several years ago with the Challenger, a similar tug that sank in the channel after falling into disrepair.
The Coast Guard spent about $2 million recovering and disposing of that vessel in 2016.