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Council ponders possibilities for future of Pier One area

Posted: May 15, 2013 - 3:01pm
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A man walks by the Pier One Theatre near the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in this panormaic photograph taken on Tuesday. Barges and tugs pulled up on the beach can be seen at the left. The Homer City Council this week discussed an overall plan for the 11-acre lot.                         Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News
Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News
A man walks by the Pier One Theatre near the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in this panormaic photograph taken on Tuesday. Barges and tugs pulled up on the beach can be seen at the left. The Homer City Council this week discussed an overall plan for the 11-acre lot.

A Homer City Council work session Monday afternoon started with a simple question: Should the city lease a 10,000-square-foot lot at the Pier One Theatre campground lot — officially, Tract A, the Fishin’ Hole Subdivision — to the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society?

The topic, however, morphed into a broader discussion of an overall plan for the 11-acre lot that’s now a mixture of industrial, recreational and cultural activities. 

Several council members even suggested that Pier One Theatre, the building housing the longtime community theater program, might be moved.

“This will be the second bravest thing I’ve ever said. What if we moved Pier One to someplace else?” asked council member Barbara Howard.

That idea wasn’t even on the radar, at least for city officials speaking at the meeting, and no proposal to move the Pier One Theater building, even informally, was made. 

At the end of the meeting, the sense of the council was to put out an RFP, or request for proposals, for a maritime history nonprofit organization to lease a small lot close to the Homer Spit Road. City Manager Walt Wrede said he would bring a resolution to the council to that effect at its next meeting on May 28.

Council work sessions are generally a way for city officials to bring issues to the council that might require action and for council members to discuss ideas informally. Items for action are not on work session agendas.

Zoned Marine Industrial, the 11-acre lot, including 4 acres of tidelands, was purchased in 1983 using money from the Port Enterprise Fund. Pier One Theatre has a 5-year lease of a 3,600-square-foot building that was an old warehouse. 

Other activities on the lot include an 80-site campground and a barge and boat haul out on the inner Kachemak Bay beach. The area generally includes the property between the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and Freight Dock Road. A truck route down from Freight Dock Road passes through the east end of the lot by an area where dredge spoils are stored.

The request by the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society to lease a small lot prompted the city administration to step back and look at a general plan for managing activities. City Planner Rick Abboud spoke to the council and presented it with a general plan that has these elements:

• Put the wooden boat society lot along the road near where an old picnic shelter had been;

• Revise traffic circulation and a layout for a campground to address potential future marine industrial use;

• Add a Kachemak Bay Water Trail kayak launch site on a corner of the lot near the fishing lagoon;

• Move the camp office building from the beach across the road to the Fishin’ Hole lot, and

• Maintain Pier One Theatre and improve parking and access.

Mayor Beth Wythe, who did not attend Monday’s council meetings, reminded him that the lot had been purchased with Port Enterprise Fund money and that if the marine industrial zoning changes, the port fund should be compensated, City Manager Walt Wrede said.

Council member Beau Burgess said he agreed with what the mayor said. He said the city might want to think about separating through zoning recreational and cultural activities from industrial activities — while paying back the port fund.

Council member James Dolma said Pier One should know things might change and it might have to move if marine industrial activity like a barge haul out area expanded and the theater needed to go.

“I’m not anti-Pier One,” Dolma said, saying he had probably attended more plays there than anyone else in the room. “I think they really need to hear, eventually — it could be five years, it could be 50 years — if someone shows me the money, I’m going to say, ‘Hasta la vista.’ … I think it’s fair to make them realize that.”

Telling Pier One it might have to move is premature, said council member David Lewis. He disagreed with telling the community theater it would have to move eventually.

“We just don’t know,” Lewis said.

Listening to what the council suggested, Wrede said he would bring a resolution back to it proposing an RFP to lease a small lot for a water-related nonprofit organization.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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