State Blocks $15 Million Hoonah Dock Grant

State officials say they’ll withdraw funding for a $15 million Hoonah dock unless the Southeast city changes its location.

The money was appropriated by the Legislature, in part to support the town’s Icy Strait Point tourist attraction, 40 air miles west of Juneau.

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Community and Regional Affairs Director Scott Ruby sent a letter earlier this month threatening to take away the grant. He also put a hold on any project spending.

He says it’s because the cruise industry doesn’t like the dock’s location.

“The primary use was going to be a cruise ship dock. But also, when it’s not being used for a cruise ship dock, it would be constructed such that it could be used for other purposes (such as) freight and ferries and whatever. It’s a multi-use dock.”

Two other proposed locations are acceptable to the industry.

Hoonah City Administrator Bob Prunella says officials won’t comment until they meet with the state. That’s scheduled to happen Thursday.

Sitka’s Bert Stedman represents Hoonah in the Senate. He says local leaders need to decide whether to move ahead.

“I think it’s a good idea for Hoonah to have a dock. But you need to build facilities that will help the industry prosper and move forward with the community.”

Hoonah has about two weeks to respond to the state. Officials will then decide whether to block funding.

The original legislative grant was for $17 million. Lawmakers last spring diverted $2 million to a clinic project approved by Hoonah leaders.

Stedman diverted another $5 million to a swimming pool at the state’s Mount Edgecumbe boarding high school in Sitka. Governor Sean Parnell vetoed that provision, saying the money should stay in Hoonah.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.