Rec center summer solutions

Summertime gym rats might have a little more space to flex their muscles following a decision by the Skagway Borough Assembly on solutions for summer space issues at the Recreation Center. The upgrades would be done with funds remaining in the rec center’s budget. According to correspondence from rec center Director Katherine Nelson to Borough Manager Scott Hahn, the rec center has approximately $76,000 left over in its capital project budget. The project, according to the letter, will cost in the neighborhood of $38,000.

The plan is to turn the equipment room located at the northeast corner of the building into more weight room space. Items currently stored there would be moved into a storage container – which the city would need to purchase. With the space clear, the equipment room would be painted, have a padded floor and mirrors installed and the dumbbells would be moved into the emptied room. Part of the request includes purchase of more benches, an Olympic bench press and a gravitron machine for weight-assisted dips and pull-ups.

In her letter, Nelson noted that this would be short-term solution, especially if an expansion of the rec center is approved down the line. However, she said that even with a full expansion, it would be years before construction would finish and “this space was needed years ago and gets worse every summer.”

The assembly approved the summertime solution 5-0 on March 2, with Assembly Member Angela Grieser absent.

Animal ordinance fines

The Borough Assembly has approved a resolution that lays out a list of fines related to the control and treatment of animals.

The resolution drew comments at a previous meeting regarding the $300 fine for maiming, mutilating and torturing an animal. Final approval of the resolution had been tabled, so that the assembly could discern the maximum fine that a municipality can issue under state law. The Alaska Statutes state that amount is $1,000, an amount resident Jan Wrentmore encouraged the assembly to prescribe to the above offenses at the group’s March 2 meeting. Wrentmore asked the assembly to raise the fines, to “send a message.”

“Skagway is not that kind of town,” Wrentmore said.

Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. motioned to amend the resolution so that the acts of maiming, killing, poisoning and tormenting animals, among others, hold $1,000 fines. Acts of possessing, spectating or training animals to fight also hold $1,000 fines as well, per Burnham’s amendment.

The assembly approved the amendment and resolution 5-0.

A tale of two tours

Talk about two different kinds of tours pervaded the March 16 Borough Assembly meeting.

The assembly had received correspondence from the Sockeye Cycle Company and Roaming Raven Adventures, LLC on two individual issues regarding current municipal code.
Roaming Raven wrote to the city to introduce their operation, and to request a clarification or change to part of the municipal code involving non-motorized conveyances and walking tours.

According to the letter from Roaming Raven owners Jennie Wysong and Ashley Bodin, the company wishes to operate a Skagway Beer and History Tour. The tour would be a 3-hour excursion taking guests around to various establishments throughout town, including the Skagway Brewing Company, Bonanza Bar and Grill, the Red Onion Saloon and Happy Endings Saloon. It would operate with only two departures per day Friday-Sunday, with a maximum of ten guests per tour.

According to city code, no non-motorized conveyances can be used for the purpose of point-to-point transportation in the municipality, including walking tours. The only exceptions are for the Red Onion Saloon and the National Parks Service.

Roaming Raven’s letter lobbied for a solution for their situation, citing several reasons to avoid using vehicular transportation between the various establishments. These included avoiding adding to congestion on Broadway and unnecessary pollution from vehicle exhaust.

Sockeye Cycle approached the assembly regarding an item in the municipal code regarding ground transportation and vehicle rental. Specifically, the company holds issue with the current classification of bicycles as commercial vehicles under municipal code.

Ordinance No. 16-21, which passed its second reading by the assembly on Oct. 20, 2016, changed the code to redefine “commercial passenger vehicles” to include motorcycles, motor scooters, motorized bicycles, as well as non-motorized vehicles such as bicycles.

Dustin Craney, general manager for Sockeye Cycle, said this change of the code adds undue complications and expenses to the company.

The code limits guided tours by vehicle to a maximum of eight vehicles, excluding the guide. Craney said that previously Sockeye Cycle’s tour groups were 12 people strong, with a tour guide at the front and rear of the pack to warn of oncoming traffic. A busy day would see 12 of these groups. To abide by the current code, Craney said the eight-person requirement would make the company double the amount of groups on the road, and distribute the tour guides between them. This would increase the opportunity for “negative interactions” between drivers and cyclists, according to Craney.

“From a driver’s perspective, I don’t see it being significantly easier to pass a group of eight bikers plus a guide, instead of passing a group of 14, which would be our 12 bikers plus two guides,” Craney said. “But I do see it being a significant impediment to traffic to have 24 groups instead of 12.”

Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. made a successful motion to direct the Public Safety Committee to review the pertinent code regarding bicycles and Sockeye Cycle’s letter.

“I think the motion is the proper response to the concern, so they know we’re going to look at it, not necessarily that something might happen,” Burnham said.

For the walking tours issue, Assembly Member Orion Hanson successfully motioned for the Civic Affairs Committee to address the walking tour application and comments discussed in the assembly meeting.

Changes made to city code pertaining to Dahl Clinic

During a special meeting of the Borough Assembly on March 13, an ordinance making changes to the municipal code relating to the Dahl Memorial Clinic was approved on second reading just ahead of a deadline that had large funding implications for the clinic.

The clinic receives a large portion of its funds through a Health Resources & Services Administration grant, which had an application deadline of March 15. The clinic was potentially in danger of losing that money due to certain articles of language in the borough’s municipal code. HRSA’s grant requires the Clinic’s Board of Directors to have the final say regarding its own budget, administrative personnel and hours of operation.

At the meeting, Clinic Board President Cory Thole and Board Member Jeremy Simmons were called up to the microphone several times to discuss certain code changes municipal attorney Bob Blasco had recommended.

In a clinic board meeting on March 14, Thole said the approved ordinance and co-applicant agreement were within the scope of what the board had been requesting of the assembly. The application for the HRSA grant has been submitted; Thole said the municipality should know HRSA’s decision in a few weeks’ time.

Assembly selects site for equine musical

Dancing horses might sound like some sort of idiom in the same vein as “when pigs fly,” but the impossible may just happen come Aug. 4, 2017, in Skagway.

At a special meeting on March 13, the Skagway Borough Assembly selected a site on which to host a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride for later this year.

The RCMP Musical Ride is a performance where 32 riders lead their horses through drills and formations, all choreographed to music.

These movements demand the utmost control, timing and coordination, according to the RCMP website. The riders act as ambassadors of goodwill who promote the RCMP image throughout Canada and other countries. The assembly had been given the task of selecting one of three sites in Skagway where the horses and riders could perform: the Seven Pastures Ball Fields, Boat Harbor Staging and Paint Shop Lot and the field behind the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot.

The ball fields were the first preference for the RCMP, with the boat harbor being the second and the field behind WP&YR as the third. The assembly reached out to Public Works, however, and ascertained that department had some concerns about 32 horses marching upon the ball fields.

The RCMP have several conditions in order for the show to take place, including a pre-show event lasting around an hour, a performance of “O’ Canada,” two armed police officers on hand, a guest of honor and providing a master of ceremonies.

To use the field behind WP&YR, the ground will need attention to create an even and safe performance area, including the removal of small trees. The cost of these renovations was unknown at the time assembly members discussed site selection.

Assembly Member Jay Burnham said that if the municipality planned to do anything with that field in the future, it would need improvements anyway. The field is the same place where the RCMP performed on its last trip to Skagway in 1995.

The motion to select the field behind WP&YR for the event location passed 4-1, with Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. against.