Army Corps declines to hold public hearing on Ketchikan megaship dock permit

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Taku is in storage at Ketchikan's Ward Cove. The former Ketchikan Pulp Co. mill site, including ferry headquarters, is in the background. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)
The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Taku docked at Ketchikan’s Ward Cove. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

The Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t plan to hold a public hearing over a permit for a proposed cruise ship dock in Ward Cove.

In a statement, a spokesperson said the agency has sufficient information from public comment and agency letters to rule on a permit for a floating dock for megaships.

That’s despite requests from the city of Ketchikan and dozens of residents to hold hearings.

Ketchikan City Council member Janalee Gage said there’s a lot at stake over the proposed private cruise docks about seven miles north of town. She’s not convinced that the comment letters speak for themselves.

“And even if they do get the same people speaking to the same issues,” Gage said, “I think it’s very important that the community feel that they have a voice in this and that they’re being heard.”

More than 80 comments penned by residents, business owners and state and federal agencies came in during the comment period. More than a quarter of those — including a comment from the city of Ketchikan — asked the Army Corps to hold hearings before it rules on the permits.

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Sivertsen says he plans to follow up.

“Maybe a call to the Army Corps to kind of get clarification is probably where we’re going to start with,” Sivertsen said.

The city council is expected to deliberate on its next move when it meets on Nov. 3.

The Army Corps hasn’t said when it will rule on the pending permit applications. Developers have indicated they want to have the floating dock in place in time for the 2020 cruise season.

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