This Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 photo shows the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

This Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 photo shows the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Kenai’s dock will go without an operator this year after CISPRI backs out

Kenai’s city dock will be without an operator this summer after Cook Inlet Spill Response and Prevention, Inc. (CISPRI) backed out of a deal with the city government to lease it for a year for $20,000.

The seafood processor Copper River Seafoods previously paid $60,000 per year to use the city’s dock and its three cranes to unload commercial fishing catches destined for its nearby processing plant, but this spring declined to renew its three-year contract, leaving the facility without an operator.

After failing to find a new operator for the dock at $60,000 per year, Kenai city administrators offered it for $40,000 a year but again received no proposals. The city then approached other possible operators, asking them to name a lease rate. CISPRI was the only one to make an offer.

At its June 6 meeting, Kenai’s City Council unanimously approved a lease of the dock to CISPRI, a nonprofit that conducts oil spill response and prevention training for 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. CISPRI planned to use the dock for training exercises in the Kenai River mouth, an environment where controlling an oil spill would require different tactics and equipment than in open water. CISPRI occasionally does training in the river mouth from an anchored boat.

Kenai City manager Paul Ostrander told the council members CISPRI had declined the deal at the council’s Thursday meeting.

“CISPRI stated that they could not justify the expense with the limited amount of time that they anticipated using the dock,” Ostrander wrote in a later email.

CISPRI General Manager Todd Paxton declined to comment on the group’s reasons for not leasing the dock.

Those wanting to use the dock’s cranes this summer can do so by making appointments with Kenai’s Public Works Department. No fuel will sold at the dock.

Ostrander told Kenai City Council members that the dock is in good condition, and said they would have a discussion about longer term marketing plans if it remains without an operator. This calendar year the city plans to spend an estimated $290,000 — with roughly half covered by insurance — on dock maintenance and repairs for cracks and flaking on the pilings and girders supporting it, caused by the January 2016 earthquake.

Ostrander speculated on reasons for the lack of interest in the dock.

“I would guess it’s primarily driven by general economics, also because of the forecast for the sockeye fishery,” he said. “If we see a rebound in the fishery and things perk up, I’m guessing we would have interest in the dock at that time.”

Reach Ben Boettger at bboettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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