A Canadian developer has begun discussions with Avalon city officials about bringing a cruise-ship hotel to Avalon Bay in an arrangement similar to the one the Queen Mary has with Long Beach.
Robert Taylor of Maritime Resort in Bellingham, Wash., is seeking approval to permanently dock the Prince George on the seaward side of the Cabrillo Mole, the pier used by commercial cross-channel carriers. The carriers dock on the bay side of the pier.
In addition to the city, Taylor will also need approval from the state Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Still, Taylor hopes that all approvals can be obtained by next summer.
"If everything falls in place, we may even be able to open next spring," Taylor said.
'A Number of Concerns'
The Avalon Harbor Committee and the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce have endorsed the idea. The City Council has not made a decision but agreed last week to begin discussions to see if the proposal would work.
"We should at least commence discussions, but there are a number of concerns that still need to be addressed," said Councilman Gilbert Saldana. "This may be a way to have an additional hotel available to us, but we won't know that until we get into discussions."
Avalon has nearly 900 hotel rooms. During the summer, according to chamber officials, nearly 300,000 people visit the island. A shortage of water and a sewage treatment plant already at capacity have held up development of new hotels, city officials said.
The 350-foot-long Prince George has 103 guest rooms, a 60-foot swimming pool, meeting rooms and a restaurant. By comparison, the Queen Mary is 1,019 feet long and has nearly 400 rooms. Last year, Taylor temporarily docked the 39-year-old Prince George in Vancouver for Expo '86.
"Avalon has a need for a hotel like this," Taylor said in an interview last week. "This is a climate where we feel we can fill the hotel 12 months a year."
Moffatt & Nichol, a Long Beach-based engineering firm, will conduct a preliminary environmental assessment to determine oceanographic conditions and to investigate methods to resolve potential problems.
The three major hurdles to the project are fresh water, sewage disposal and mooring.
Taylor said fresh water, which is rationed on the island, would be provided with on-board desalination equipment. He said the ship also has its own secondary-treatment sewage facility. The treated sewage could be dumped into deep water near the ship, dumped into holding tanks for periodic disposal, or dumped into the city's sewage treatment plant during off-peak hours.
Mooring Bigger Problem
Mooring the ship will be a bigger problem, Taylor admitted. He said three methods are being explored: a floating breakwater, a rock breakwater or a "bow-on" method, which would consist of mooring the ship perpendicular to the wharf with the bow facing the predominant direction of the waves. A large float would be moored alongside the ship for passenger loading and unloading.
The Queen Mary has been permanently docked in Long Beach since 1967, but it has been only in the last four years that it has made money as a tourist attraction and hotel. The ship, owned by the Long Beach Harbor Department, is managed by the Wrather Corp. of Beverly Hills.