Eighth annual Choose Respect March to take place on Thursday, March 23

Join the Sitka Youth Leadership Committee and Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) and walk in the Eighth Annual Choose Respect March from noon to 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 23. There also will be a sign-making event from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at The Island Institute, on Baranof Street across from Baranof Elementary School.

We’ll start at Totem Square at noon, head down Lincoln Street and gather at the Crescent Harbor Shelter. Let everyone know that you support the movement to stop the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse in Alaska. At the rally, you will learn about some of the exciting programs in the community which empower youth to prevent violence before it ever occurs.

“When we started planning, we thought it would be timely to widen the focus from intimate partner violence to all kinds of violence we are witnessing these days,” said Martina Kurzer, SAFV Community Coordinator. “We’ll march for equality and diversity, and against violence and oppression. So immigration, LGBTQIA, poverty, abuse of power, are all issues we can express in this event. Our hope is to offer another opportunity for making a statement. We’ll have some speakers there, including Kathy Hope-Erickson, Phil Burdick, and hopefully, some student council members. The event will be over by 12:45 pm.”

Even though the state no longer provides support for statewide Choose Respect March events, SAFV is keeping the Sitka event going. If you are an employer, please allow your staff members to participate in this community event. Our goal is to be seen, statewide, as a community that cares.

Nearly one out of every two women in Sitka (47 percent) has experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, or both in her lifetime, according to a 2012 survey by the UAA Justice Center.

For questions, please call Martina or Julia at SAFV, 747-3370. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Comment period open for first-phase completion of Sitka Sea Walk into Sitka National Historical Park

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Sitka National Historical Park will keep the public comment period on the Sitka Sea Walk Phase 1 completion project open until Sept. 30. Public comments will then be compiled and analyzed. Park managers will decide on an alternative in part on advice and opinion received through public comment.

SitkaSeaWalkEndBySNHPJPGThe Sitka Sea Walk, which opened on Oct. 18, 2013, runs parallel to Lincoln Street, from the Crescent Harbor Parking lot to Sitka National Historical Park. The unfinished portion, from near Merrill Rock on Lincoln Street and Kelly Street to the Visitor Center, has three possible options for completion. Sitka National Historical Park held two public meetings to discuss the project on Aug. 23 and Aug. 30.  The alternatives can be viewed during regular Visitor Center hours at 106 Metlakatla Street in Sitka. The alternatives also are discussed in the Aug. 30 meeting link above.

In other recent news, the Alaska Transportation Alternatives Program (ATAP) announced on July 28 it was awarding $1.36 million to Sitka to build the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk, which will run from Harrigan Centennial Hall to the lightering dock by the O’Connell Bridge.

Comments can be taken in-person at the visitor center, delivered by e-mail to nps_sitk_website_contact@nps.gov, or received by mail sent to 103 Monastery Street, Sitka AK, 99835. Comments by mail should be post marked no later than Sept. 30. For more information please call the visitor center at 907-747-0110.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 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://http://www.nps.gov/sitk or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark.

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

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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 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.

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.

Sitka Trail Works to host guided kayak trek to Fort Rousseau WWII installation

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SitkaTrailWorksLogoSitka Trail Works is sponsoring a guided kayak trek to the Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historic Site on Saturday, June 25.

This trek features two hours of kayak paddling, plus a 2 1/2-hour easy stroll to the historic World War II installations. For the more adventurous, there are a few sections of difficult scrambling over large armor rock to go further along the causeway.

Contact Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures at 752-0660 to reserve a spot for just $99 plus tax (a $50 discount from usual price). You’ll see ammunition bunkers and machine gun platforms. If you intend to go inside the bunkers, you’ll need a flashlight or headlamp. Water and a snack are suggested. This trip is a good way to learn more about Sitka’s role in World War II.

Meet at 9:15 a.m. at the big blue Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures bus in the Crescent Harbor parking lot. Thank you Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures for partnering on this Sitka Trail Works fundraiser. For more information, contact Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244.

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Seventh annual Choose Respect March to take place on Thursday, March 24

Choose Respect poster

Join the Sitka Youth Leadership Committee and Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) and walk in the Seventh Annual Choose Respect March from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 24.

We’ll start at Totem Square at noon, head down Lincoln Street and gather at the Crescent Harbor Shelter. Let everyone know that you support the movement to stop the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse in Alaska. At the rally, you will learn about some of the exciting programs in the community which empower youth to prevent violence before it ever occurs.

If you are an employer, please allow your staff members to participate in this community event. Our goal is to be seen, state wide, as a community that cares.

Almost every other woman in Sitka (47 person) has experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, or both in her lifetime, according to a 2012 survey by the UAA Justice Center.

For questions, please call Martina or Julia at SAFV, 747-3370. We look forward to seeing you there.