Community Planning Assistance Teams

Unalaska, Alaska

Meet the Team

Community Planning Assistance Team Member Profiles

Project Background

Located just 50 miles from the Great Circle shipping route, Unalaska, the 12th largest incorporated city in Alaska, is 800 miles southwest of Anchorage in the heart of the North Pacific/Bering Sea fisheries. The city itself contains approximately 115 square miles of land and 98 square miles of water. Unalaska is a community of 4,400 permanent residents and 5,000 to 10,000 seasonal workers. For the last 30 years, Unalaska's economy has been based primarily on commercial fishing, seafood processing, fleet services, and marine transportation. The Port of Dutch Harbor is the only deep draft, ice-free port in the area, which is also designated a "Port of Refuge" providing year-round protection for disabled or distressed vessels. Ground/warehouse storage and transshipment opportunities for the thousands of vessels that fish or transit the waters of the Bering Sea are also available in Unalaska.

Focus is now shifting to additional economic opportunities, namely staging and support industries related to oil exploration and production. With the need for a protected deep water port with accessible uplands for industries related to oil and gas industry, several oil companies have plans to set up staging areas in Unalaska in the near future. Many support industries related to oil exploration are expected to follow.

While there is a vast amount of undeveloped land on the island, there is a limited amount of flat ground readily accessible for development. A CPAT will assist the City of Unalaska with the community engagement component of creating a land use plan, which will help identify areas with cultural, historic and environmental significance. The team will provide a knowledge base and facilitate information exchange regarding port planning, housing, and the unique needs of the oil industry as they work with community members including the native village corporation, the Ounalashka Corporation.

Updates and Reports

May 1, 2015

The team issues its final report: "Future Land Use in Unalaska: Community & Partner Stakeholder Engagement."

Read the team's final report (pdf)

May 22, 2014

The team briefly toured the Museum of the Aleutians followed by a lunch meeting with the mayor and city manager. In the evening, the team set up for a final open house demonstrating an exhibit of the community's input throughout the week. The team created maps showing areas where community members generally agreed on future types of development.

May 21, 2014

Members of the team embarked on a tour of the community by water with the Ports Director, Peggy McLaughlin. Team member, Shelly Wade, AICP, conducted outreach with Unalaska high school students and elder residents at the senior center. In the evening team members split up and conducted further outreach at the local grocery store and the Parks, Culture and Recreation (PCR) Center to gather more input from residents.

May 20, 2014

Groups of stakeholders met with the team throughout the day, including: the city's development review team; members of the Ounalashka Native Village Corporation; the school district and a variety of community organizations; cargo company representatives; marine fuel companies; the U.S. Coast Guard and tug pilots; and local business owners. Each provided a unique perspective of the future development of Unalaska.

May 19, 2014

The team met at the Unalaska Library to set up their workspace for the week. They then met with city department directors at City Hall for lunch followed by a tour of the community with: City Manager, Chris Hladick; Planning Director, Erin Reinders, AICP; and Director of Ports and Harbors, Peggy McLaughlin. From 7-9 p.m., the team held an open house at the Burma Road Chapel whereby residents stopped in and shared their ideas about what and where they'd like to see in Unalaska.

May 19-23, 2014
The team is scheduled to conduct its visit.

News Coverage of the Unalaska, Alaska Project

KUBC: "The Exchange: Planning Unalaska's Future"