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1/17/2013
Council to look at $100,000 loo

By ANDREW SHEELER

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan City Council Thursday will consider whether to take ownership of a Thomas Basin public restroom and bus-stop scheduled to be built by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

The restroom in question — which will cost the borough an estimated $100,000 — was proposed by the borough to address a perceived lack in public facilities on the south end of downtown. The nearest public restrooms in that area are the ones in the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, which is accessible to people with disabilities, and in the Centennial Building, which is not.

The original plan called for the borough to build and maintain the facility on Stedman Street, with the city handling utilities and janitorial services. However, Borough Transit Manager Kyan Reeve told the city that it would be more appropriate for the city to own the facility when it is completed, because it falls within city limits.

In a Jan. 8 letter, City Manager Karl Amylon advised the Council not to accept the borough’s proposal. He listed concerns about the homeless population — the restroom would be near The Salvation Army church — as well as the possibility of frequent vandalism.

The public restroom would be modeled after the "Portland Loo," a facility that was built to address similar concerns in downtown Portland, Ore. The facility would be stainless steel and powder-coated to prevent graffiti. There would be no mirrors to break, and the sink would be located outside the facility. Even the lighting would be designed to discourage trouble. The "anti-vein" lighting would be tinted blue to make it more difficult to use injected street drugs, according to Reeve.

"The interior is designed to be as Spartan as possible to avoid the ‘hotel’ aspect that most public restrooms are infamously known to invite," Reeve wrote in a Nov. 23 memo to Amylon.

"The concept behind this restroom is to provide a place to quickly do business, but offer no other amenities that would invite people to hang around for extended periods of time, nor provide a location for nefarious activities."

According to Reeve’s memo, The Salvation Army has offered to clean the facility daily during the winter months.

Amylon and Reeve said Wednesday that they arrived at a possible compromise Tuesday evening. The borough would own the facility for the first year, while the city would provide cleaning and maintenance. The borough also will install a counter that will measure usage of the restroom.

After that, the Council would decide whether it wanted to take over ownership of the facility, but would be under no obligation to do so. Amylon said such an agreement would quell most of his concerns.

At deadline though, the city manager’s office had not yet received the revised agreement for perusal.

If the Council gives the go-ahead, Reeve said the facility possibly could be installed by May or June.

Also Thursday, the Council will consider whether to enact an across-the-board 7-percent increase in harbor use fees.

Under the existing fee structure, a 24-foot vessel inside Ketchikan city limits will have a $45.96 reserved moorage fee. If the raise is approved, that will go up to $49.16.

The raise was planned, and voters were made aware of the possible fee increase when they voted on the harbor bonds package in the June 2012 special municipal election. For every $1 million in harbor bonds the city takes out, it would need to raise fees by 7 percent. The city plans to draw $2 million in harbor bonds over the space of two years.

The most recent across-the-board increase was in 2005, and the last harbor fee raise of any kind was implemented in 2008.

The Council will weigh whether to award a contract for the abatement and demolition of the former Alaska Duty Free building at 420 Water St.

The building was damaged beyond repair by a fire in 2011 and has been deemed a public-safety risk by the city. The city put the demolition contract out to bid on Jan. 2 and received four offers. The lowest was $87,890 from Ketchikan-based Pool Engineering, Inc.

Hatch and Associates previously had submitted a bill to the city for services rendered in the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project "value engineering" effort after the project came in $12 million more than Hatch estimated. The Council will decide Thursday whether to add $104,122 to Hatch’s $1.5-million bill for those services.

While the Council previously met in executive session to consider taking Hatch to court over its inaccurate estimate, Amylon said the Council has not directed him to pursue legal action.

A motion to lease city-owned tidelands north of town to Olson Marine, Inc., likely will be deferred until the first Council meeting of February. The owners of that company requested the motion be delayed to allow them time to address complaints from residential neighbors about hours of operation at the facility.

The Council also will consider:

• Whether to purchase three police cars from Wasilla-based Kendall Ford for $76,338.

• Whether to endorse a proposed Metlakatla-Ketchikan 34.5-kilovolt intertie.

• Whether to remove up to 31 feet of on-street parking from the intersection of Heckman Street and Hillside Road.

• Whether to approve a 10-percent wastewater increase. The Ketchikan Municipal Code requires all rate changes to be approved twice.

• Whether to grant $25,000 to the Small Business Development Center through the city’s community agency fund. The grant would be identical to last year’s.

• Whether to update the city’s fire and building codes to the 2009 or 2012 editions in order to keep the city’s ability to handle contractor issues locally.

• Whether to approve a contract with Portland, Ore.-based CLEAResult to implement city-wide energy conservation measures.

The Council also will consider entering into executive session to discuss exempting the purchase of 4G/LTE equipment from the standard competitive bid process as well as to discuss the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with the Public Safety Employees Association that represents the employees of the Ketchikan Police Department.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. There will be time for public comment at the start of the meeting.