With renovations complete at the Unalaska Marine Center, city officials are getting ready to lease out the dock space.
Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin said the city attorney is finalizing a request for proposals for terminal service agreements.
"What we're looking for are companies to come in and bid on what they need for dock positions, what they would like for back-reach parcels, what they need for time slots, and a length of term," said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said the city is looking to sign five- to 10-year deals with cargo companies, fuel carriers, and other port users.
With long-term contracts, she said businesses will get predictable rates and consistent operating windows, while the city can work towards paying off the $35-million-dollar bond that's allowed it to upgrade the marine center over the last two years.
With 1,600 feet of linear dock space, 800 feet of crane rail, and 168 hours of available scheduling, McLaughlin said the city should be able to serve all interested companies.
"I do believe that if we have multiple requests, we will be able to accommodate multiple companies," she said. "That's because the carriers that are interested in a long-term use agreement are the carriers we're already accommodating today."
Some companies expressed concern about competition and preferential use when officials first raised the idea of inking new deals in 2017.
But City Manager Erin Reinders said she expects the bidding process to go smoothly now that the renovation is finished and officials know — more clearly — what they can offer.
"Dialogue and relationship-building go a long way," said Reinders. "It builds a significant level of trust, I hope. We are really trying to put this idea forward as a win-win for industry and the city. It allows for transparency and predictability on all fronts."
Reinders said the request for proposals will go out some time in the next few weeks.
After bids are in, city officials will review and rank businesses based on their volume of operations and revenue, their length of term, and their previous history as port users.
From there, the City Council will discuss and approve contracts.