The CBC Construction bid was the lowest of the two received, and it came in below the engineers’ expected $1.4 million for the project. That allowed the city to upgrade the amenities for the walking path, which will extend from Crescent Harbor to the Sitka National Historical Park. In bid includes an added alternative walkway on the breakwater next to the Sitka Sound Science Center, a sidewalk from the basketball court to the Sheldon Jackson Campus entrance, and site lighting in the conservation easement. Other added features include using yellow cedar for the boardwalk and adding drainage features for the park.
“It’s really popular for locals,” Assembly member Phyllis Hackett said during the debate on the contract. “I think this will be a great thing for visitors. They’ll be easily directed from Crescent Harbor all the way down to the national park, which I think is a great thing. But also, in addition to that, it’s going to be a great thing for residents on into the future.”
The funding for this project comes from the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax (aka, the cruise tax), which must be only used for visitor improvements. But this project is one that also benefits locals. In February coverage of the Sitka Sea Walk by KCAW-Raven Radio, reporter Ed Ronco noted that someone walking from Crescent Harbor to the Sitka National Historical Park has to cross the street twice because of where current sidewalks end. The Sitka Sea Walk will make for one continuous pathway on the ocean side of the street, making it safer for pedestrians while also offering better views of the ocean and tidelands.
During the meeting, the Assembly decided to not accept a plan to set aside $48,000 a year for maintenance and replacement costs for the Sitka Sea Walk. The Sitka Public Works Department estimates annual maintenance at just $6,000 a year, and they thought the figure was excessive. They noted that new money will become available later because of the cruise tax, though it also has to be used for other projects. The Assembly plans to look at another way to fund maintenance and replacement costs at a future meeting.
To learn more about the Sitka Sea Walk project, check out our January post about the project and our February update. The January post included links to the city’s project website, which features videos and other presentations showing how the Sitka Sea Walk will look once it’s completed.