The City of Seward has a $10 million bond proposal for improvements at Seward Marine Industrial Center Proposition A on the Nov 6 General Election ballot. You might not know it’s even there, because it’s a small part of a much larger $453.5 million state-wide general obligation bond package, mostly for the construction of roads, bridges, and ports and harbor improvements. But it is vitally important to Seward’s ambitious growth plans for SMIC.
Seward officials, and representatives will be looking extremely closely at the outcome of Tuesday’s election, as the state’s voters could have a major impact on Seward’s plans.
If Prop A doesn’t pass, it could set the local project to build a new breakwater at SMIC back by at least a year or more in terms of design, engineering and even beginning construction, said Assistant Seward City Manger Ron Long. That was what the $10 million bond would help Seward do. Building a new breakwater, dredging the SMIC harbor in certain key areas, and dock extensions at SMIC are seen as vital to bringing the Coastal Villages Region Fund to Seward, in addition to the new RV Sikuliak, and/or other ships that are expected to be seeking a sheltered, deep, ice-free port in Alaska.
During Friday’s Seward Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Long said he was particularly concerned because of the news media’s focus on the negative aspects of the Anchorage Municipal project, which has some major design flaws, and is likely to cost vastly more money than earlier proposed. He’s afraid that people who oppose that project might vote against the bond package, and thereby doom all of the other important projects statewide, at a time when interest rates for government bonds are at an historic low.
The largest state grants in the bond package are $50 million for the Port of Anchorage, and $30 million for a rail extension to Port Mackenzie in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, two projects that come with major questions about their future direction and cost. They also are projects that are not necessarily appreciated by Seward residents, who may be concerned about the effects of competition by another railroad extension in Mat-Su that could put it in competition with the rail yard here.
He hopes voters won’t let those particular projects affect their vote for the bond package. The same amount of grant money requested for the Port of Anchorage is requested for necessary Anchorage road work , he noted. Newtok Traditional Council would get $4.1 million to help with its effort to move the village to higher ground, nine miles away. The Ninglick River is eating away as much as 70 feet of that western coastal village’s bank each year, threatening to take out their homes.