Homer Port and Harbor expansion options reduced to 5 alternatives

The number of alternatives being considered for the Homer Port and Harbor expansion remodeling plans have been reduced from 13 to five.

At a July 24 Homer City Council work session, Ronald McPherson, coastal engineer with HDR Alaska Inc., reported during a Zoom presentation on the alternatives moving forward, the standards that they meet and explained the reasons for excluding those left behind. Details for all of the alternatives can be found in an online chart located at https://homerharborexpansion.com/resources/.

The engineering standards include meeting the goals and objectives of the expansion, cost-benefit efficiency, how the alternative would meet regulations and requirements, how each alternative would be practically implemented, and how it would satisfy stakeholders.

A chart available for review in his presentation and provided to audience included how well each remaining alternative will meet expectations for harbor expansion plans with a ranked scale of low, medium or high.

The Homer Harbor Expansion Charter mission statement aims to “work collaboratively with all segments of the community to explore opportunities to expand necessary infrastructure while ensuring Homer’s maritime future, navigational safety, environmental integrity, and regional connectivity and align development of any opportunities with the City of Homer Port and Harbor Department Mission Statement.”

McPherson emphasized at several points that all design options are conceptual at this point and there will be many iterations and alterations that will still emerge.

According to the Homer Harbor expansion update in the monthly newsletter from the office of the city manager, this milestone will launch the alternatives evaluation and analysis phase, which is expected to last about nine months and will culminate in a Tentatively Selected Plan.

Mayor Ken Castner drew the attention back to the question of how conceptual the design schemes still are at this point. “Will there still be some polishing of these designs moving forward?” he asked.

McPherson confirmed that the models will be updated with more details available in the future.

“A lot of the specific details will be solidified at the scoping meeting at the end of September,” McPherson said.

Council member Caroline Venuti asked the engineers if they will be attending an upcoming meeting in person and they responded that they do plan to.

McPherson said the next step to the project is to dive into the size of the fleet and who needs the Homer facility, what boats need to use this space and what is viable.

As part of the alternatives analysis phase, there will be another community scoping meeting, likely in September to collect additional and interactive public feedback.

Public comments at the meeting were provided by about 12 people and addressed various topics including how the public will be involved in additional components of development.