Commercial fishing boats are rafted together in May 2016 in the harbor in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Commercial fishing boats are rafted together in May 2016 in the harbor in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Assembly urges funding of Homer harbor study

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted unanimously at its April 21 meeting to approve a resolution asking the U.S. Economic Development Administration to grant $3 million to fully find the City of Homer’s Port Expansion General Investigation Study.

If funded, the grant would start Homer on planning to build its long sought-after harbor expansion, a top priority in its Capital Improvement Program.

Sponsored by Assembly President Kelly Cooper and Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, the grant would come from $1.5 billion in grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act. In a memorandum by Cooper and Pierce supporting Resolution 2020-031, they wrote, “As the Kenai Peninsula Borough makes stimulating the economy a priority at the conclusion of the COVID 19 Pandemic, the Homer Port Expansion Project is one that will be the guidelines for funding through the CARES Act.”

Cooper said on Tuesday that she worked with Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Executive Director Tim Dillon in writing the resolution.

“I’ve always believed that marine trades is a big part of our economy,” Cooper said. “When I saw that (the CARES Act) I reached out to Bryan to see if he would assist.”

The resolution does not guarantee funding, but puts the assembly behind it in urging that Alaska’s Congressional delegation and state representatives and senators support the grant. The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center also wrote a letter in support of the grant. If funded, the study would be done by the city in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Cooper said that if the harbor is built, the spoils from dredging the harbor could also be used to address another Homer Spit issue, erosion of the Spit on the Kachemak Bay side, especially at mid-Spit.

The next step after the resolution is for Dillon to write a grant application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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