By Melinda Munson

The assembly voted Feb. 17 to give a two-year contract to manage Garden City RV Park and Pullen Creek RV Park to JBW. Owned by Joseph Warchuck, JBW was the lowest bid at $88,000 per year. JBW’s proposal was $38,700 less per year than the second highest bid. There were four contenders.

The municipality will provide a site in each park for the manager. If a park closes, JBW will no longer have access to an RV spot in that park. Either the contractor or the municipality can terminate the contract with 90 days written notice.

JBW did not list any subcontractors and Warchuck’s name was the only one on the bid.

Borough Manager Brad Ryan changed course from earlier recommendations, where he advocated for utility upgrades to Garden City RV Park. Ryan said he had been “agonizing” over what to do with the park. This spring, the municipality and Skagway Traditional Council plan to conduct an archeological assessment of the grounds, the former site of the Pius X Mission, a Catholic boarding school for Alaska Natives.

“I believe the best plan going into ‘22 is to essentially leave the RV park as it is. Don’t dig in the new electrical, leave the old electrical there. I think AP&T will turn it on for us one more year. It’s not the services that RVers want, but I think we can get by another year and not disturb the ground,” he said.

Ryan hopes his updated recommendations will save money, protect the property for the archaeological investigation and give the assembly time to craft a long-term plan for the park.

With Ryan’s new proposal, a fill and dump station would be available at Garden City, but not water at RV spots. His plan does not include seasonal housing for workers. 

Ryan said the archeological investigation contract will specify that trailers have 72 hours to move if they are in the way of the ground assessment.

Mayor Andrew Cremata has been approached by many businesses who want seasonal spots at Garden City. He worries that promising workers “they’re going to have housing for the summer, and then have to vacate within 72 hours” is “irresponsible.”

Christian Racich, owner of Ocean Raft Alaska, is advocating for use of Garden City to house workers.

“We, along with many other local businesses, are barely hanging on, and need all the help possible to get back on our feet after this trying time. If we can’t provide housing to our employees we won’t be able to attract the new hires that we desperately need to operate at anywhere near our historical capacity. We will essentially step backwards, and will be faced with paying for company infrastructure in place in 2019, with employee levels from 2013,” he said.

The assembly of the whole will meet Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss long-term strategy for the Garden City RV property.