Sitka National Historical Park to host second meeting about completing first phase of Sitka Sea Walk

MarkAndPeterGormanWithOcean

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.

SitkaSeaWalkEndBySNHPJPGThe 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.

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Sitka Fine Arts Camp builds new walkways around Odess Theater, Allen Hall

 

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WalkwaysConceptDrawingVisitors to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp may have noticed the new walkways and landscaping around Odess Theater and Allen Hall this summer.

The new walkways were built thanks to the support of Carol Odess and other donors, according to Sitka Fine Arts Camp Director Roger Schmidt, and they make the Odess Theater and Allen Hall buildings more accessible. The new landscaping was designed by Sitka architect Monique Anderson using the 1910 architect’s plan for the Sheldon Jackson College campus.

The project started this winter, and concrete was poured in April for the new walkways. During the 100 Volunteers Day at the end of April, volunteers helped with the landscaping, planting flowers, shrubs and even some strawberries along the walkways.

“Of course there is still a lot of work to do on campus,” Anderson said. “A future project will be realigning the quad walkways to the historical road alignment. The Sitka Sea Walk spur to Lincoln Street was positioned to line up with this future alignment. Sitka Fine Arts Camp will be seeking donors for this work.”

Click this link to see the design and reasoning for the project. A slideshow of scenes from the construction, with Carol Odess in one of the photos, (courtesy of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp) is posted below.

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Sitka awarded $1.36 million for second phase of Sitka Sea Walk

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The Sitka Sea Walk is about to get 1,763 feet longer.

The Alaska Transportation Alternatives Program (ATAP) recently announced it was funding $1.36 million for the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk, which will extend the popular pathway between Harrigan Centennial Hall and the O’Connell Bridge lightering dock.

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Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, left, and State Sen. Bert Stedman cut the ribbon opening the Sitka Sea Walk on Alaska Day (Oct. 18), 2013.

This new phase of the walkway will run along the embankment on the water side of the bridge, allowing visitors and Sitka residents to walk from the lightering dock to Harrigan Centennial Hall without having to cross a busy street. The extension also will connect to the first phase of the Sitka Sea Walk, completed in October 2013, which runs parallel to Lincoln Street from the Crescent Harbor parking lot to the border of the Sitka National Historical Park. The Sitka National Historical Park currently is hosting community meetings about various plans to complete the first phase of the Sitka Sea Walk from the border of the park down to the park’s visitor center.

The total cost of Phase II of the Sitka Sea Walk is $1.7 million, with $200,000 coming from the Alaska Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) and $140,000 coming from the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax (CPET). In 2014, the city applied and was approved to receive $181.940 in FLAP funds (with a local match of $18,060), which become available in the Fall of 2017. The FLAP and CPET funds can be used to meet the $340,000 match requirement to receive the $1.36 million from ATAP.

On June 28, the Sitka Assembly approved the submission of the grant application for ATAP funds, and the state announced on July 28 that the Sitka Sea Walk extension was one of 15 projects funded around the state. While not in the application, the city also plans a connector path from the O’Connell Bridge lightering dock to Lincoln Street and Totem Square.

“I think it will be a great addition to the visitor industry, visitors can get off at (Harrigan) Centennial Hall and get to this part of town,” Sitka City Administrator Mark Gorman told the Daily Sitka Sentinel. “I think it will facilitate more walkability to all of Sitka. It will enhance the visitor experience.”

In the Sitka Assembly’s resolution approving the grant application, the Sitka Sea Walk and its extension are listed as priorities in the 2002 Sitka Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, the 2007 Sitka Comprehensive Plan, the Sitka Tourism Plans 1.0 and 2.0, the Sitka Downtown Master Plan, and the 2011 Sitka Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Action Plan. In surveys of cruise ship visitors and independent travelers completed in 2010 for the Sitka Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Action Plan, there was a desire for more walking and hiking activities and tours, and most cruise ship visitors choose to walk during their visit to Sitka.

GuyWalkingOnSpurOverBreakwaterIn addition to helping celebrate Sitka’s connection to the sea, there is another big reason to build the Sitka Sea Walk extension — safety.

In a memorandum to Mayor Mim McConnell, the Sitka Assembly and Gorman about the application, Public Works Director Mark Harmon and Municipal Engineer Dan Tadic noted how the Sitka Sea Walk extension “around the seaward side of the O’Connell Bridge solves a long-standing, identified safety issue with pedestrians making uncontrolled crossings of the State of Alaska owned and maintained Harbor Drive. A comprehensive wayfinding signage system along with a designated pedestrian route will result in visitors moving in predictable ways. Not only is this a significant safety improvement, but (it) also reduces the potential for visitor-resident conflicts and frustration.”

When the first phase of the Sitka Sea Walk was built in 2013, safety also was a factor since before the Sitka Sea Walk pedestrians had to cross Lincoln Street at least twice to get to where sidewalks were only available on one side of the street. The construction of the Sitka Sea Walk not only eliminated the street crossings, it directed pedestrian traffic away from the street so there were fewer auto-pedestrian conflicts.

The ATAP funding is expected to become available in early 2017, pending an environmental review by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, according to Marcheta Moulton, small federal programs manager for the ADT&PF. Tadic said the city will probably go through the design process in Fall/Winter 2017-18, with construction starting in 2018.

Sitkans Against Family Violence seeks coaches for Boys Run: I Toowú Klatseen program

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Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) is seeking coaches for its Boys Run: I toowú klatseen (strength of spirit) program.

This is an after-school empowerment program for boys in grades 3-5 that teaches them healthy relationship and respect skills while training towards a 5-kilometer fun run later this fall. It is modeled after the Girls On The Run program, which meets in the spring.

Coach training takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 (lunch is provided). The Boys Run program has two teams that will meet from 2:40-4:15 p.m. from September through December in the Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School Gym. Team One meets on Mondays/Wednesdays starting Sept. 21 and Team Two meets on Tuesdays/Thursdays starting Sept. 22.

For more information, contact Lauren Havens at SAFV at 747-3370 or send an email to lhavens@safv.org. The coaches application and job description can be found at this link.

Sitka National Historical Park celebrates centennial Aug. 25 with free programs and cake

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NPS100thBirthdayOn Thursday, Aug. 25, the community is invited to Sitka National Historical Park to celebrate Founder’s Day. Founder’s Day is the annual celebration of the creation of the National Park Service.

This is a milestone year for the National Park Service, with 2016 marking its 100th birthday. Centennial celebrations will include new ranger talks, tidepool exploration, a historic photo exhibit, free tours of the Russian Bishop’s House, Russian tea, hikes on the totem trails, and cupcakes. Don’t forget you can count your hikes on the Park Prescriptions program; just get them to stamp your free punchcard at the Visitor Center.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Historic Park Photo Exhibit

Take a walk through time by viewing seldom-seen photos from the park’s past. These historic park photos document the park’s rich history as a unit of the National Park Service. The photo exhibit will be located inside the Visitor Center.

Ranger Table Talks at the Visitor Center

Subsistence Champions, 9-9:45 a.m. — Learn about the multitude of edible, medicinal and all-around useful plants and animals in Southeast Alaska.

A Century of National Park Service, 9:45-10:30 a.m. — While National Parks seem commonplace today, they were a new and radical idea when first created 100 years ago.

Tidepool Exploration, 11 a.m. to noon — Explore and learn about tidepools and their resident creatures.

Salmon, Sea Otters and Eagles, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Learn about the myriad species of wildlife that make their home in Sitka National Historical Park.

Salmon Talk, 2-3 p.m. — Learn more about the fish who have made life in Southeast Alaska possible for thousands of years.

Centennial Cupcakes at the Visitor Center

Cupcakes, 10:30 a.m. to noon — Cupcakes celebrating the 100th birthday of the National Park Service at the visitor center.

At the Russian Bishop’s House

Russian Tea, 9 a.m. to noon – Russian tea will be served on the front lawn of the Russian Bishop’s House.

Free Tours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Free ranger-guided tours of the restored residence of the Bishop on the second floor.

Learn more about the National Park Service at http://www.nps.gov/. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about the Sitka National Historical Park at http://www.nps.gov/sitk or visit the park’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 25

August- Indian River

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25 (note time change from usual schedule). Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead for Indian River Trail.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Steve Hutchinson at 747-6859 or email her at shutchinson@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for August 2016

Sitka National Historical Park to host meetings about completing Sitka Sea Walk first phase

MarkAndPeterGormanWithOcean

Sitka National Historical Park will host 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.

SitkaSeaWalkEndBySNHPJPGThe 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 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 meeting will be held as an open house, from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center. The second meeting will be a presentation by the Chief of Resources, Brinnen Carter, and will begin at 5:30 pm, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center.

For more information, please call the visitor center at 907-747-0110.