After two tries, the city of Kenai may have someone to operate its dock for the summer.
On Wednesday, the Kenai City Council unanimously voted for a resolution letting Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc. operate the dock at the city-owned Kenai Boating Facility for a year. The group will pay the city $20,000 for a year.
The fish processor Copper River Seafoods had been paying $60,000 per year to use the dock and its three cranes to unload commercial catches destined for its nearby cannery, but this spring declined to renew its three-year contract, leaving the facility without an operator.
Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said the contract with CISPRI would cover the dock’s operating expenses — mostly personnel costs — for the year it will be in effect. The dock is also also in the midst of receiving one-time repairs for minor damage from a January 2016 earthquake. Ostrander estimated the repairs at $290,000, which includes repairs not due to the earthquake. About half is covered by insurance.
In addition to the cranes, the facility includes an office, floating docks, moorings and an operating area. CISPRI did not opt to take on the fuel concession, so there will be no fuel sales at the dock this summer.
CISPRI General Manager Todd Paxton said his group still needs to work out language related to liability and insurance in its contract with Kenai, saying “the odds of it moving forward are about 70 percent at this point.”
CISPRI — a non-profit corporation owned by member organizations including Cook Inlet’s oil and gas operators, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the municipality of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula Borough — trains its members’ employees in oil-spill cleanup and prevention techniques.
The Nikiski-based group presently trains in waters at the mouth of the Kenai River, where controlling an oil spill would require different tactics and equipment than in open water, Paxton said. In the past, CISPRI has done this from a boat anchored in the river, but after the lease it may station four to six skiffs at the dock for intermittent training exercises.
“Frankly, you probably wouldn’t see a whole lot of activity there on any given day,” Paxton said.
Ostrander believes this year’s poor fishery outlook discouraged canneries that may have leased the dock. The city went out to bid twice this spring with no responses. Kenai administrators then reached out to three businesses — Copper River Seafoods, Alaska Fish Factory and CISPRI — the week of May 14. Only CISPRI showed interest, proposing the $20,000 one-year contract, according to the memo.
The boating facility is located next to the Kenai City Dock, where many recreational boaters launch to access the popular Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery in July. Paxton said CISPRI would schedule its exercises to avoid the dipnetters.
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