Sitka National Historical Park will host the second of two meetings for public participation regarding the completion of the first phase of the Sitka Sea Walk, the end where the pathway enters the national park.
The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center, where Chief of Resources Brinnen Carter, will discuss the pros and cons of three options for the project. The first meeting, which was part of an open house, was on Aug. 23.
The first phase of the Sitka Sea Walk, which opened in October 2013, extends from the Crescent Harbor parking lot to Sitka National Historical Park, running above the harbor parallel to Lincoln Street. The unfinished portion, from near Merrill Rock on Lincoln Street (and the intersection with Kelly Street) to the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center, has three possible options for completion. The public meetings will present the options, answer questions, and gather public opinion.
The first option (with a projected cost of $329,732) completely rebuilds the sidewalk, widening it to match the width of the Sitka Sea Walk as it goes into the park. The second option ($490,142), and the most popular option among those at the Aug. 23 meeting, is a boardwalk that will take the Sitka Sea Walk down by Merrill Rock and closer to the beach, away from the street, as walkers enter the park. The third option ($180,428) only replaces the concrete at the beginning and end of the walk, but leaves a narrow sidewalk next to a retaining wall for much of the section.
This section of the Sitka Sea Walk is on federal land controlled by the National Park Service, which is why the Sitka National Historical Park is holding these meetings instead of the city. Carter said the Alaska Federal Lands Access Program will cover the costs, regardless of the preferred choice. While the boardwalk (third option) will have a shorter life span than the other two concrete options (50 years vs. 75 years), it does offer several safety advantages since walkers won’t be crowding the streets near a blind corner as they do now when cruise ships are in town. Carter said the intent is to match the current design of the Sitka Sea Walk as much as possible.
For more information, please call the visitor center at 907-747-0110. Carter said Sitka residents who can’t make Tuesday’s meeting can stop by the visitor center and submit their comments by Tuesday, Sept. 6. The design will be completed this fall, with construction expected to be finished by October 2017.
Schematics showing the three options are posted as a slideshow below.