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City to hear cruise update: Market affects port planning

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan City Council will hold a special meeting Thursday as the president and CEO of an architecture and engineering firm that the city hired to assess future port developments will be in town.

The City Council adopted a motion on Sept. 6, 2018, to authorize the city to enter into a professional services agreement with Bermello, Ajamil & Partners Inc., not to exceed $113,360, for services related to port development and financing options.

The firm has previously assisted the city with port development forecasting and financing in the early to mid 2000s.

Luis Ajamil from the Miami-based firm will update the council by discussing B&A’s cruise market assessment report and cruise development plan.

Following the meeting will be an executive session with Ajamil to discuss ongoing development of a financial model, negotiation strategies related to the expansion of port facilities to accommodate the influx of larger cruise ships over the next few years, and an execution of the preferred strategy, according to a memo written by City Manager Amylon.

The 39-page cruise market assessment report prepared by B&A projects that the City of Ketchikan will need four to five berths capable of handling vessels up to 1,200 feet long as a long-term strategy.

The report points to an increase in Asian cruise consumer market and expected growth over the next five to 10 years.

“Alaska will need to compete directly with this traffic,” the report states. “...The addition of the Asian consumer to Alaska will increase overall employment and numbers to the region.”

It also says that over the next 10 years upland infrastructure needs to accommodate 15,000 to 22,000 visitors per peak day, and upland support such as sidewalks, and water and sewer system should be addressed as well.

“Limited weekend homeport berths in Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle coupled with weekday berth congestion in the key downstream ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway may cause issues if new infrastructure is not brought on line quickly,” the report states.

Based on market capture rates, the passenger projection for 2029 is between 1.394 million and 1.694 million passengers.

The report points to an overall expansion of the cruise ship industry.

“As of Oct. 31 there are 112 new cruise vessels on order with a total berth capacity of 268,674 scheduled for delivery over the next 9 years (2018 through 2027). For comparison purposes, in spring 2006, the forward cruise vessel order book contained 29 vessels with a berth capacity of approximately 85,000,” states the report.

The report estimates dates for when new bigger ships are projected to replace current, smaller vessels. B&A’s full report is available online on the City of Ketchikan website.

Another executive session is scheduled at the end of the council meeting for the continuation of the annual evaluation of Amylong who’s the manager of Ketchikan Public Utilities in addition to the City of Ketchikan. The evaluation started in executive session this past week as requested by Amylon.

The special City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in the City Council chambers, 344 Front Street. The meeting is opening to the public and there is opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.