Point of View: Homer deep water port plan verses uncontrolled growth

Why I believe we need to follow through with harbor expansion options

I am a Homer city resident and consider myself to be fully in the middle of the political spectrum. I encourage every aspect of environmental stewardship. I’ve gone out of my way to listen to every opinion that comes my way as a member of the Homer Port and Harbor Commission. The reasons listed below are why I believe we need to follow through with harbor expansion options.

1. Our port and harbor is a large component of our community’s heritage.

2. It’s our only link to the beauty and commercial enterprise of the sea beyond our Alaskan road system.

3. The port of Homer is the only sheltered moorage capable of handling the increased demand as a critical freight and transportation hub for Southcentral Alaska.

4. The Port of Homer plays a key role in a statewide transportation system on the southern peninsula with its Alaska State Ferry Terminal.

5. The U.S. Coast Guard facility and vessels stationed in our harbor play a critical role for coastline protection and maintenance of our coastal navigation aids.

6. There has been a long waitlist for larger commercial vessels for more than 10 years. Our harbor just wasn’t designed or modified to accommodate vessels over 60 feet.

7. Over the past 20 years (even during COVID) Homer’s harbor has never had the capacity to meet the needs of our water taxis, charter boats or sport boat fleets. Those waitlists just continue to grow while the opportunity for that income just passes us by.

8. Income for the services provided by the Port of Homer brings millions of dollars into our city and into the hands of our local residents. That income also includes residents living well beyond the city limits of Homer.

9. We currently have before us an opportunity to secure both federal and state funding to cover a large portion of the study and any expansion that the Corp of Engineers deems as a “best recommended option.”

10. Many of our local residents have waited more than 20 years for the opportunity we have today, to plan for our city’s maritime future.

11. I cannot grasp the logic of some who claim that no expansion or minor improvements that are underway to our port will somehow stop us from being overrun by people coming to use our harbor and its infrastructure. As an example, this summer we will witness how simple changes to the Cook Inlet king salmon catch limitations will drive even more sport and charter boats to our harbor ramp.

12. The expansion of our harbor over the years has not hurt the quality of life in Homer.

13. Harbor expansion has not reduced enjoyment of our spectacular views of Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.

14. Past expansion provided clearly designated areas to protect the bird and marine habitat on the Spit.

Past growth planning and careful attention to our harbor has provided a clean, organized doorway for visitors and all residents of Alaska to enjoy everything that the lower Kenai Peninsula has to offer. There is no reason to think that we can’t do that again looking forward to the next 50 years in Homer.

Bruce Friend has served on the Homer Port and Harbor Commission for about 1.5 years and looks forward to hearing while assisting to make sure the Army Corps study addresses all of those concerns while moving forward with the Harbor expansion plans.