Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/19/1996 02:42 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SRES 2/19/96                                                                  
        SB 278 CREDITS AGAINST FEES AT ST HISTORICAL PKS                      
 SENATOR LEMAN announced  SB 278  to be up for consideration.                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR said the purpose of the bill is to provide a                   
 mechanism so they can accomplish a land transfer that is in a                 
 parking lot to provide more parking for the Native Cultural Center.           
 It provides some reimbursement through a credit system.                       
 JOE AMBROSE, Legislative Aide to Senator Taylor, said SB 278 was              
 introduced to address concerns raised by the Ketchikan Area State             
 Parks Advisory Board and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly.              
 It provides a mechanism by which the Division of Parks and Outdoor            
 Recreation could acquire two small parcels of land adjacent to                
 Totem Bight State Historical Park.  The parcels are currently held            
 by Ketchikan Public Utilities (KPU) as the site of a diesel                   
 generation plant.  KPU plans to vacate the property which would               
 revert to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.  SB 278 would allow DNR to           
 offer credits against fees paid by commercial tour operators for              
 payments made to a municipality for projects that will mitigate or            
 alleviate access, congestion, and parking problems at historical              
 parks.  The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has indicated            
 that use of this provision at any other State historical park other           
 than Totem Bight is unlikely.  In any event, the authority would              
 sunset on December 31, 2000.  The three year window is needed to              
 avoid drawing down too quickly against the fees.                              
 MR. AMBROSE said that Totem Bight is about 12 and a half acres and            
 is located north of the City of Ketchikan and had an estimated                
 160,000 visitors in 1995, half of them arriving from commercial               
 tours.  In 1977 it was estimated that the park could handle 636 -             
 734 people at one time.  Actual use now exceeds 925 people at any             
 one time.  The park also has only seven parking spaces for buses              
 and there are often up to 21 buses parked in the lot, on the                  
 shoulders, and at a nearby gift shop.                                         
 To mitigate the overcrowding, DNR is proposing that tour operators            
 pay for the acquisition of the borough-owned parcels to provide the           
 additional parking space and additional attractions, such as trails           
 and possibly a carving demonstration area.  DOT/PF has an interest            
 in developing a transportation enhancement project along the road             
 at Totem Bight, if the land becomes available.  Totem Bight is a              
 valuable asset; the State has invested more than $1 million in                
 capital improvements to the facility over the past 10 years.                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR said this bill is so narrowly drawn that it will               
 only involve a situation where you have a State Park that was                 
 actually collecting concession fees and that those fees could then            
 be utilized as a credit to leverage the purchase of property from             
 a municipality.                                                               
 Number 510                                                                    
 JIM STRATTON, Director, Division of Parks and Recreation, supported           
 SB 278 and thanked Senator Taylor, especially, for his sponsorship.           
 He had reviewed other State historical parks this bill could apply            
 to and he found only one with significant access problems, the                
 House of Wickersham in Juneau.  Practically, this bill will only              
 apply to Totem Bight, especially with the three year window.                  
 WILLIAM GARRY, Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Advisory Council, said             
 he would answer questions from the Committee.                                 
 MICHAEL RODY, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, said that capital projects           
 were becoming increasingly difficult to fund.  This particular                
 project is maybe one of the most visited parks in the State.  The             
 Assembly recently approved the disposal of the property once it is            
 acquired.  They don't have it at the present time, but the                    
 generator is being removed.                                                   
 SENATOR LEMAN asked him to describe the land transfer process.  MR.           
 RODY replied that once the generator is sold and removed, they hold           
 fee simple title on the property.  He had been informed that the              
 equipment has been sold and will be removed in the next several               
 months.  He has the authority from the Assembly to sell it or do              
 whatever is appropriate.                                                      
 CRAIG MOORE, Ketchikan Area State Parks Advisory Board, said they             
 strongly supported SB 278 and thanked Senator Taylor for sponsoring           
 it.  They feel it is a great opportunity for this park as it is               
 heavily used by tourists in the summer.  Native culture is an                 
 important theme in Southeast Alaska and Totem Bight State                     
 Historical Park has one of the best collections of totemic art in             
 the area.                                                                     
 Number 442                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass SB 278 with individual recommendations           
 with the accompanying fiscal note.  There were no objections and it           
 was so ordered.                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects