Proposed Senior Center bond ordinance passes
Proposed Senior Center bond measure was on the borough agenda for the second time. The project, a 10,000-square-foot building to be designed as a meeting place with seven apartments for seniors was originally introduced as a $7 million bond with property tax increases.
After further calculations it was dropped to $6 million, on the second reading.
Committee member Ginny Cochran addressed the assembly during public comments.
“We would like this new building to be a community activity center, not just a senior center. In fact, we would like to get rid of that word: ‘senior,’ ‘cause it kind of scares some people. Although I notice quite a few gray hairs up there,” she said.
Michael Baish, who heads the committee said: “When I landed here in 1984, I heard stories of our history. Our project is at least that. We sell our history. We have a unique history,” Baish said. “And the living history we have is the people who are here. I think that this senior center needs to be recognized as a place for history to continue and to be recorded.”
Assembly members plan to reach out to the community to provide more information on the ‘Skaguay Community Activity Center and Senior Housing complex.’ But for now the bond measure will be on the Oct. 4 ballot.
“My concern is the timing right now,” said Assemblyman Spencer Morgan. “We’ve got some other projects that are gonna be coming up. I’m a little concerned where we’re gonna be bonding-capacity-wise if this gets approved. This will put us close to $30 million that will be bonded, if I look at those numbers right.”
Skagway currently has $20 million in bond debt.
Fate of the Rapuzzi House discussed
Residents also spoke up about the city potentially selling the historic Rapuzzi House. Some residents have affection for the house on 2nd and Main Street, where George and Edna Rapuzzi lived, while others feel it’s a financial burden to the municipality.
“It’s a gem that should not be let go,” Jeff Brady said.
“The top of my list is the Rapuzzi House. Get rid of it as soon at you can. The house costs far too much to restore it. Somebody who was handy could restore it,” Mavis Henricksen.
Tim Bourcy also chimed in, saying that the house was in disrepair and other options should be explored.
Assemblyman Spencer Morgan suggested turning the issue over to the Conservation Committee to brainstorm ideas for the building’s future.
Borough Manager Scott Hahn said he had asked Diane Kaplan of the Rasmuson Foundation for guidance on the Rapuzzi House. He put in a memo to assembly members: “I explained our interest in selling to a private party however would gladly gift the property back to the Rasmuson Foundation, as Ms. Kaplan suggested to me earlier.
After hearing from the public, Mayor Mark Schaefer said the municipality should “probably keep” the property. “There’s no rush, there’s time,” he said.
White Pass and the waterfront
Discussions continued regarding engaging a third party port consultant to facilitate re-engaging in tidelands lease discussions with White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.
The assembly heard from members of the public in support of the idea bringing in an expert to conduct a socio-economic study.
“I don’t understand the sudden antagonism toward White Pass,” said Nola Lamken. “As we approach them, I would like to see some good feelings.”
“As far as re-engaging White Pass, I agree with everybody here we should engage, they are a huge stakeholder,” Buckwheat Donahue said. “I don’t look at them as an evil entity. When it comes to the harbor, they are the ones who polluted it and they should clean it up.”
Second reading on the parking ordinance
The ordinance that would prohibit parking any motor vehicle within 20 feet of any intersection passed after little discussion. The law already requires that a 30-foot buffer zone from a stop sign. Fire hydrants have a buffer zone of 15 feet. This ordinance would keep intersections safer for pedestrians and vehicles and was referred to as a “housekeeping” issue by Mayor Schaefer.
“I went for a morning run and I was surprised at how many cars would have been in violation of what this would be,” Morgan said.
Steve Burnham, Jr. said he voted no on the first reading because he was on the phone and asked a question, but got no answer in the previous assembly meeting.
The new 20-foot rule would apply to intersections that do not have stop signs. But alleys aren’t included because most people drive down the streets and not the alleys.
Burnham also added that borough should set aside money in the next budget for paint.
The motion unanimously passed.
Anther road safety concern included the first reading of an ordinance that would require golf carts and golf cart-type vehicles adhere to the same rules of the road as other motor vehicles.
The motion unanimously passed.
Waterfront lease to Ocean Raft Alaska
The assembly introduced the first reading of a proposed lease to Ocean Raft Alaska. The proposed floating dock and walking trail are located in a secluded area between Skagway and Haines.
This lease would just be for land, not water, Hahn said. The land would be used to expand Ocean Raft Alaska’s current operation with the addition of trails and stairs to be built. The company also applied to Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources for a Five-year permit to place the floating dock in state-owned tidelands.
The motion unanimously passed. –SA