The city has added many facilities over the past few years at the Homer Harbor: a new load-launch ramp, a new harbor office, more bathrooms, an expanded Homer Spit and harbor trail with bright pennant flags, paved parking lots at some harbor ramps and even a new covered ramp.
Despite all the progress, the harbor lacks a facility that would seem obvious.
“There’s no public space in the harbor to get out of the weather,” said Miranda Weiss.
Weiss, her husband, Bob Shavelson, director of Cook Inletkeeper, and Blue Too water taxi owner Gart Curtis are leading an effort to address that deficiency — the Boat House, a maritime pavilion that would be built on the site of the old harbor office near Ramp 2.
Weiss said the inspiration for the Boat House came from a covered pavilion at the Seldovia Harbor.
“We thought, hmm, we need one of those,” she said.
On Jan. 13, the Boat House committee held an open house at Land’s End Resort to introduce the plan to the community, get ideas and solicit financial support.
The Boat House would have these features:
• A covered pavilion about 45-feet-by-35-feet that might include windbreaks, benches, picnic tables and an outdoor fireplace;
• An expanded deck at Ramp 2 extending out over the harbor;
• Landscaping of the area between the Ramp 2 restrooms and the pavilion, and
• Reorganized parking between Ramp 2 and the Salty Dawg Saloon and Salty Girls gift shop at Ramp 1.
Making parking more efficient would result in a net gain of parking spaces, said ECI architect Jason Swift. A preliminary site plan by Corvus Design, a landscaping design
firm, shows 70 spaces in that lot. There also is room to drive through the lot and drop off people.
ECI, the firm that designed the Homer Public Library, and Corvus are providing services pro bono, or free of cost as a public service. The city of Homer put the Boat House on its 2016 Capital Improvement Project list, but has not committed any funds. The project budget is about $210,000. About 25 percent already has been raised, Weiss said at the open house. An anonymous donor has pledged $40,000 if it can be matched by another $40,000 by March 31.
About 140 people attended last week’s meeting. Committee members and architects greeted people at poster displays illustrating aspects of the project, including several pavilion designs.
“None of those were intended or will be the final boat house project,” Swift said. “Some are a lot more playful than the others. Really, it’s just a way to get people talking.”
The ideas seek inspiration from the maritime theme of the harbor. As fits many Alaska buildings, the proposals include lots of wood such as laminated beams.
“Whatever we do needs to be easy to maintain and long lasting,” Swift said.
One concept has canvas draped under the roof of the Boat House, with curved ribs hanging down.
“It would be like you’re walking under a boat,” said Genevieve Beloin, an ECI architect intern.
Glass or slat walls would block prevailing winds while still allowing sunshine to get through. One side would be open to the harbor with its vistas of boats and Kachemak Bay.
“We want people to get out of the weather and enjoy the view,” Weiss said.
Shavelson said the Boat House could help people see the harbor as more than a summer destination.
“We always look at the Spit as the economic multiplier. It happens in a wink of the eye,” he said. “I see this boat house as a year-round place for locals.”
The Boat House also could serve as a staging area for people waiting for water taxis, fishing charters and tour boats. Most captains tell passengers to either meet at the top of harbor ramps or at the docks. People unloading gear for kayak or camping trips often stage at ramp parking lots with short-term loading zones. The Boat House would be another alternative, maybe even with kayak racks.
One design element might be a flag or banner that would make the Boat House visible from the Homer Spit Road. Swift said it could be a landmark for meeting people, like the big clock at New York’s Grand Central Station.
“Meet at the Boat House,” he said.
Last week’s open house started the process for thinking about and planning the Boat House. Weiss said the next step is for ECI and Corvus to take community ideas and refine the plan.
“We’re very early here,” she said.
Fund raising also will continue. Project leaders are working closely with Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and Public Works Director Carey Meyer on design. The design ultimately will go to the Homer Advisory Planning Commission for its recommendations and to the Homer City Council for its approval. Although the Boat House would be mostly funded by donations, the city would own and maintain the Boat House.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.
P.O. Box 1498
Homer, Alaska 99603
On Facebook at The Boat House
The Homer Foundation / The Boat House
P.O. Box 2600
Homer, AK 99603