City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department to share Lincoln Street project plans at May 22 open house

Option 4A (no u-turn in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral).

Option 2B (keeps u-turn option in front of cathedral).

The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department has scheduled an open house to discuss construction plans for an upcoming Lincoln Street paving project, from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, in the Chum Room at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The project will re-pave Lincoln from City Hall to the traffic light at Lake Street and Harbor Drive. As required by federal law, CBS will reconstruct all crosswalk ramps within the project limits so that they comply with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This will result in re-shaped intersections and modified crosswalks. Conceptual drawings will be posted on the CBS project website (https://www.cityofsitka.com/government/departments/publicworks/projects.html) as they become available.

There are two main options around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral — one (Option 4A) will eliminate the u-turn in front of the cathedral, where there have been car-pedestrian collisions in recent years, and the other (Option 2B) will continue to allow the u-turn in front of the cathedral (see posted drawings).

“The AutoTURN lines on the non-U-Turn option show how a hearse or similar vehicle can access the pedestrian area in front of the cathedral when needed,” city engineer David Longtin wrote in an email. “I highlighted the relative advantages and disadvantages in red.”

This diagram shows how the sidewalks in front of First National Bank of Alaska and the ADA parking will be modified.

The project will also replace corroding storm drain pipes, construct a water main from Lincoln Street to Seward Street via Cathedral Way and provide safety improvements and additional pedestrian space in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The only other traffic changes will be to American and Barracks streets, which will become one-way streets (American up the hill to the north, Barracks down the hill from the south). Longtin said city officials have decided those two streets are too narrow for two-way traffic.

Construction is planned between the last cruise ship of this season (early October) and the first cruise ship of next season (late April). CBS is committed to minimizing impacts to business owners, vehicle traffic and pedestrians while the work is under way.

Please contact CBS Senior Engineer Dave Longtin at 747-1883 or david.longtin@cityofsitka.org with questions about the project.

• Letter from Doug Osborne about his thoughts on the Lincoln Street upgrade

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Sitka Trail Works releases weekend guided hike schedule for the 2019 spring and summer

Sitka Trail Works will kick off its 2019 summer series of weekend hikes on Saturday, May 4, with a moderate to strenuous bike ride of up to 10 miles along the Cross Trail. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Cross Trail access point near the Sitka Performing Arts Center (behind Sitka High School) to join the ride.

That will be followed on Sunday, May 12, by a short hike on the Ben Grussendorf Forest and Muskeg Estuary Trail. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the gravel boat launch at Starrigavan State Park to join the hike.

The series of weekend hikes are led by various members of Sitka Trail Works, and there also are occasional geocaching events, bike rides and kayak trips on the schedule. Most of the hikes near town are free (donations are accepted), but some of the hikes require a boat trip and those have fees. The schedule runs through the end of August.

On National Trails Day (Saturday, June 1), Sitka Trail Works and other groups will do repair work to Thimbleberry Trail starting at 9 a.m. Tools will be available, but you should bring gloves, pruners and toppers, if you have them.

In other news, Sitka Trail Works has completed all of the permitting and raised all of the funding needed to start and complete Phase 6 of the Sitka Cross Trail Multi-Use Pathway. The goal is to finish the Cross Trail by 2021.

Don’t forget to check the Sitka Trail Works website for current trail condition reports and hike updates (several hikes have changed dates since originally announced.

• Spring 2019 Sitka Trail Works newsletter

• Sitka Trail Works 2019 hike schedule (updated April 1)

Earth Month activities include the 18th annual Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenges event, free bus rides, and more

Earth Day is on Monday, April 22, and Earth Week this year is Sunday through Saturday, April 21-27. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, a couple of gardening classes, free bus rides, a herring potluck, and the 18th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species. For a calendar link to the events list, click here.

There is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 20-28, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard (hazardous materials are only accepted April 27-28). This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 22-26). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.

Exchange students in Sitka will take part in Community Conversations About Earth Day, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi.

The Ugly Side of Plastic art show takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 18-19 at 124 Lincoln Street, in the small upstairs entryway next to The Silver Basin store.

There is a Tlingít potato workshop from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service Sitka Ranger District and Sitka Tribe of Alaska. This event takes place at the Sitka Ranger District office, 2108 Halibut Point Road.

The 18th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 19. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 3:15 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to the Sitka Sound Science Center starting at 3:30 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, Best Local Plant, Best Local Animal, Best Group Costume, and Best Costume Age 18-plus. For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at claire@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Click this link for a slideshow of scenes from the 2018 Parade of the Species.

Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Sound Science Center are hosting an Eco-Challenges event for youth of all ages from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 20, starting at the Sitka Conservation Society office above Old Harbor Books.

Alaskan Brewing Company will sponsor a Coastal CODE Cleanup from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, meeting at the Sitka Sound Science Center. There is a barbecue at 4 p.m. for all participants.

The Alaska Raptor Center will host an Earth Day celebration for the whole family from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at the Alaska Raptor Center.

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Sitka Conservation Society will host a “We Love Our Fisherfolk” lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, at the school.

Finally, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, there will be a Natural History Seminar on Sitka’s Landslide Warning System. Future landslide geology studies and the related social science research on developing a landslide warning system unique to Sitka will be addressed. For more information, contact Cora Siebert at 747-8878, extension 11.

City of Sitka to host meeting Wednesday, April 3, about Katlian Street improvements

The City and Borough of Sitka Department of Public Works will host a meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss improvements to Katlian Street in 2019.

The project will take place between the Katlian Street intersection of Halibut Point Road and approximately 508 Katlian Street, near Petro Marine and the Marine Service Center.

Improvements will include the replacement or lining of deteriorated storm drain pipes, grinding and overlay of existing pavement, upgrading of ADA-compliant (American Disability Act) ramps, and replacement of limited sidewalk. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the construction project in general and the construction schedule to limit disruption along Katlian Street.

Katlian Street is a section of town that has been targeted for walkability upgrades in the recent past, but many of the problem areas are not part of this construction project. These include the ramps to nowhere (driveway cuts that don’t go to improved properties), narrow sidewalks, poor lighting, water drainage issues that cause icy sidewalks in the winter, and the house at 420 Katlian Street that keeps sliding into the sidewalk.

For more information about the project or to make comments, contact City of Sitka Senior Engineer Stephen Weatherman at 747-4042 or stephen.weatherman@cityofsitka.org.

New wayfinding signs find their way onto Sitka streets and alleys

The new wayfinding kiosk near the tour bus stop on the side of Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Kiosk looking toward Crescent HarborOver the last couple of weeks, Sitka residents and visitors have seen 41 new wayfinding signs pop up on Sitka streets, as well as a new information kiosk just outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. These are part of a lengthy project by Visit Sitka, the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce, and the City and Borough of Sitka to update the wayfinding signs in Sitka.

The new signs use estimated walking times instead of distances to show how far away key landmarks are (using about 10 minutes to represent a half-mile, or slightly less than a kilometer). The use of times instead of distances not only encourages walking, but it also is less confusing to foreign tourists used to the metric system. The designs also include Tlingít formline elements, to honor our local Alaska Native culture.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System was installed in September 2018 (and into October),” said Rachel Roy, executive director of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and Visit Sitka. “This comprehensive and unified directional sign system was customized for our community. Funded with the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax (CPET, or cruise tax) funds, the City of Sitka and a planning committee of tourism industry representatives worked with Great Destinations Strategies to develop a new brand identity for Sitka, and Axia Creative for the sign design and locations.”

A new wayfinding sign in front of Wells Fargo bank, at the corner of Lincoln and Maksoutoff streets, with an old wayfinding sign above.

The project cost just over $300,000 between the branding design and sign costs, Roy said. The branding project started in 2013, and the wayfinding project launched in 2015, with several delays. But the origins of the project can be found all the way back in 1996 in the Gateway tourism plan. The new wayfinding signs will replace the blue signs around town that were installed in 2015 and meant to only be temporary for a year or two.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System serves as a welcome and orientation for visitors, provides a unified image that reflects our community’s character and history, provides a sense of place, a ‘seamless’ experience and a guide to Sitka’s major attractions,” Roy said. “The signs offer visitors access to VisitSitka.org, Sitka’s official visitor website and encourages use of #visitsitka on social media. We are proud to see the signs being used by visitors throughout the community and this further development of our community’s visitor industry infrastructure.”

According to a map sent by City and Borough of Sitka project manager Kelli Cropper, there were 41 wayfinding signs and the one kiosk installed as part of this phase of the project. The majority of the wayfinding signs are on Lincoln Street, but there are a few off Sawmill Creek Road and one on Kaagwaantaan and Barracks streets, plus a few along the Sitka Sea Walk toward the Sitka National Historical Park.

A map showing the locations of the 41 wayfinding signs and new kiosk.

Cropper said there are options to purchase two more kiosks at later dates, with one going underneath the O’Connell Bridge by the lightering dock after the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk is completed and the other possibly going up on Lincoln Street after that street is upgraded in the next year or two. At this time there are no wayfinding signs on Katlian Street, and any there would have to come during a future phase of the project.

A slideshow showing some of the new wayfinding signs and both sides of the kiosk is posted below.

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City of Sitka to host public meetings to discuss improvements on Lincoln Street

The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department will host two public meetings — at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, at the Sitka Public Library — to discuss the Lincoln Street Improvements project. Participants will be able to review the plans and hear about the fall and spring construction schedule.

The project includes the replacement of lining of deteriorated storm drainpipes, grinding and overlay of existing pavement, upgrading of ADA (American Disability Act) ramps, replacement of limited sidewalk and installation of red concrete crosswalks. The public is encouraged to attend to see the proposed improvements and provide public input.

For more information, contact Public Works at 747-1806.

• Lincoln Street Improvements meeting handout

Scenes from the 18th annual Parade of the Species through downtown Sitka

There were squid kids, a raven clan, and jellyfish galore during the 18th annual Parade of the Species, held Friday, April 20, through downtown Sitka as part of Earth Day and Earth Week activities hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society.

This year’s parade started from Totem Square and finished at the Sitka Sound Science Center, where there were a variety of activities for the kids such as making masks or drinking fresh smoothies.

A slideshow of photos from the parade is posted below.

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