Moffatt & Nichol reports accepted

A resolution accepting the numerous studies provided by Port Consultant Moffatt & Nichol was approved by the Borough Assembly on Aug. 3.

The resolution encompasses five studies: a short term needs analysis, a port governance review, a port environmental and regulatory compliance analysis, a port economic analysis and a market value appraisal. Representatives from Moffatt & Nichol have held a string of presentations on these reports since mid-June, which cover a number of facets focused around Skagway’s port.

In the short term needs analysis, Moffatt & Nichol recommended that the municipality move forward with a $14.5 floating expansion to the Ore Dock in order to accommodate larger classes of cruise ships in the coming years. The port governance, environmental and economic analyses – which were presented on July 19 – covered numerous data points, economic predictions and items to consider regarding potential port governance structures. Lastly, the assembly also approved a market value appraisal, which had been subcontracted by Moffatt & Nichol to Julie Dinneen of Colorado. Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said he thinks Moffatt & Nichol did a “very good job” on all the studies, and that they are a good start for the long-term planning that needs to happen.

“It sets us up to make decisions in the short term, but it also hints strongly that we need to do some serious planning,” Burnham said.
The resolution passed 5-1, with Assembly Member Monica Carlson voting against. Carlson said her “no” vote was done out of principle.

“I attended their (Moffatt & Nichol’s) last meeting and I felt that they did not remain neutral in our decision process here in the community, that they offered their opinion, which I don’t think any of us asked for,” Carlson said. “And so for that, I’m going to vote no on this, but I do agree that they did a lot of work, and we have a lot of planning to do.”

-DF

Staff given green light to seek $1,800,000 loan for State Street

The Borough Assembly has authorized municipal staff to apply for an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation loan to the tune of $1,800,000 to fund the upcoming State Street sewer and water upgrades project. This action plays into a two-pronged project by the municipality and the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) regarding State Street.

ADOT&PF held an open house on the project at the Traditional Council in June.

There, ADOT&PF Project Manager David Pyeatt said Skagway will step in first on the project with sewer and water improvements.

Following the municipality’s work, ADOT&PF will begin its efforts renovating State Street from First to Alaska Street. Pyeatt had said the project will probably take two seasons, and that ADOT&PF expected to be able to begin its portion of the work in 2018.

At an Aug. 3 assembly meeting, Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said the Finance Committee has been discussing the need to finance the State Street project for a long time, so the funds wouldn’t simply be pulled from the municipality’s general fund or from sales tax.

“If our loan is improved, we will seriously improve our budget standing as far as what we were discussing the last few months,” Burnham said, referencing the assembly’s recent deliberation of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

He added that the Finance Committee had voted earlier that day to recommend adoption of the resolution.

The assembly approved seeking the loan 6-0.

-DF

Assembly approves fine schedule for P&Z violations

A fine schedule for violations of Title 19 in the municipal code – which relates to Planning and Zoning – was approved 6-0 by the Borough Assembly on Aug. 3.

Ordinance 17-10, approved by the assembly earlier in July, mandates that failure to comply with the terms and conditions of any approved conditional use permit (CUP) will be considered a violation, and subject to a fine until the issue is corrected.

The fine for failure to comply with a CUP is $500 for each day of violation. Assembly Member Orion Hanson said the fine does “seem steep,” but also noted that there is a lengthy notification process before a user is actually considered in violation.

“So I don’t think it’s like you are blindsided by a $500-a-day fine, that said $500 a day is quite a bit, that does seem a little high to me,” Hanson said.

-DF

Update on two Dyea bridges

At the most recent Dyea Community Advisory Board meeting, the board reviewed the status of the West Creek Bridge and the Jay Frey Bridge, both of which were tested by the Public Works Department for lead in the paint.

Wayne Greenstreet, chair of the advisory board, said that the Jay Frey Bridge is an old state walkway that was used at the old ferry terminal before it was moved out to Dyea.

“But because it was down by the ocean for a long time, some of the paint started peeling off after it got put up there,” Greenstreet said. “And we were concerned about how toxic it was.”

According to Greg Kollasch, lead groundskeeper of the Public Works Department, both bridges contain lead in the paint.

“The paint on the Jay Frey bridge is so minimally hazardous, which is great,” Kollasch said. “The West Creek Bridge, on the other hand, is super potent.”

Although it is potent, the paint on the West Creek Bridge is not peeling, only the paint on the Jay Frey Bridge is.

“The West Creek Bridge, it’s normal,” Kollasch said. “I mean, tons of bridges that age are full of lead, that’s what they are, so it’s really nothing new.”

Kollasch said Public Works is working on looking at both bridges, and it would be up to the municipality to take further action on either.

-TS

Totem Trot held later for Skagway participants

The annual Totem Trot Fun Run/Walk in Haines is being held an hour later this year, leaving time for Skagway athletes to take the fast ferry across the pond and participate, according to Haines Sheldon Museum Director Helen Alten.

The Totem Trot is an annual fundraiser for the Sheldon Museum, and is in its fourth iteration this year.

The half marathon takes runners out alongside the water on Lutek Road. The 5,000-meter run makes a loop through downtown Haines.

• Half marathon participants can pick up bibs and register at the Haines Sheldon Museum at 8 a.m. on Aug. 12

• 5k walking participants pick up bibs and register at the Haines Sheldon Museum at 9 a.m. They start at 9:30 a.m. from the museum.

• 5k running participants pick up bibs at the Haines Sheldon Museum at 9:30 a.m. They start at 10 a.m. from the museum.

• There will be a van to take half marathoners to the race start. It leaves the museum at 8:15 a.m.

• There is parking available in town near the museum for half marathon and 5k participants.

-DF