Boat owners sometimes leave town to get repairs and other services they can’t find in Kodiak, and some even sail down to Seattle to get work done.
That’s one issue members of the Port and Harbors Advisory Board brought up at the Kodiak City Council work session Tuesday night when they introduced the idea of establishing a shipyard building on Near Island. The facility would provide a space where boat owners could do repairs and other work.
Board Chairman Nick Szabo called it an economic development project.
“If you’re spending several million dollars a year among this town in metal fabrication and in paint and in marine supplies and in labor and painting and all that, that helps everybody. That helps the sales tax, that helps the local businesses, the restaurants and all the vendors in town.”
Board Member Skip Bolton said working on a boat indoors would make the task more efficient and help overcome the obstacle of Kodiak’s weather.
“Even in the summertime it’s difficult to get a good paint job. I know because I do it every year. But if you had a building and people knew about it, I think that that building would get a lot of use. Just like now there are a lot of trawlers hauled out, there’s a lot of repair work, so it isn’t just painting and sandblasting. It’s repair work inside.”
Board members explained the shipyard would belong to the city, and Szabo said they’d like the Kodiak City Council to consider setting up a fund for the shipyard building.
“We’re proposing that $50,000 a year be taken from the sales tax harbor revenue, that $50,000 dollars a year go from that to this dedicated shipyard fund, and it’s to be matched by another $50,000 a year from private donations.”
Council members agreed that the shipyard plan needs to be clearer before they consider a funding method. Councilman Rich Walker said the council needs to approach it like it would any other project.
“We do [a] feasibility study, we do some research that way, we do some architectural, some design, and part of that study is the economic part that needs to be studied to see if we’ll get our money back and it’ll float itself down the road. So, this is big. It’s big to me. I think this is one of the programs on the horizon that we really need to start turning ourselves toward.”
Councilman John Whiddon encouraged the board members to “roll up their sleeves” and come up with some ideas about what they need. He suggested the plan requires more development before the next step.
“It could take three, four, five years for this to happen, and what’s the fleet going to look like in five years? When the boat yard was first built, the fleet was different then than it is today. The fishing is different then than it is today. We need to look at all these things before we invest a huge portion of sales tax dollars or commit to revenue bonds.”
The council agreed it would need to hear more about shipyard facility at a later meeting before deciding if it would go forward with the project.