SMIC Development Plans in Voter’s Hands Tomorrow

November 5, 2012 12:03 pm6 commentsViews: 5

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.

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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.

6 Comments

  • Would love to see us get SMIC up and rolling, providing jobs and more income, but on the other hand the 453 million dollar propsed is quite a bit to be voting yes too………..

  • tread lightly

    SImply put – It is unfortunate that this is all lumped into one proposal. However it is my opinion that Seward needs this. Maybe it’s time for us (our town) to be a little selfish and not look at the rest of this bill. This bond will give us the push off we need to get the Coastal Villages project started… finally! Living outside of town, I feel fortunate to have my vote count on this topic.

    I would also like to take this time to publicly show my support of our Assistant City Manager, and commend his ability to not publicly slander others in our community. His diplomacy is appreciated, even when I do not totally agree with his view point.

  • ~in a small town...

    These loaded ballot questions with costs tend to hold-hostage
    other regions’ own interests in order to get others to sign on
    to incredibly questionable projects with doubtful oversight.

    Of course, since I voted early (clerks office) last week, the
    idea of this being a ‘jobs bill’ came to mind even though I
    am not among those who will see much of any benefit;
    unlike those local school bonds where a high percentage
    of employee and dependent turnout helps a local number.

    So we’ll have to see how this kind of continuing math sketch
    plays out, in order to grasp if big winners’ gains help us all.

    Part of the problem is these numbers appear to be vaguely
    in tune with low-bid costs of low-profit-margin quality results.
    The low bid generally isn’t the best quality, yet all seem high.
    Where is the 20 year guaranty of servicability for roads, etc?

    Much of the improvement costs are repetitive on roadways
    in part due to a set of poor standards unsuitable for here.
    When they say these roads etc are built to standards, one
    should look into who set them in the first place. Profiteers?

    The SMIC should see bonded investment capital from businesses
    who would profit from the necessary improvement, with a kind of
    guaranty that would outlast those who would likely fail anyway.

    So much of the large numbers are almost beyond credibility, as
    the simple math adds up when some laborers get $40 per hr
    flagging road traffic projects. The real money goes elsewhere.

    ~ in a small town …
    kenai mountains, alaska.

  • zesty enterprise

    I’m still waiting for the City to formally present the concept, benefits and costs of the Coastal Villages proposal to the community.

    • Here’s the concept:

      In order to manage previous overspending, we float millions of dollars in bonds to pay for new infrastructure and improvements, so that we can grow jobs, so that we can grow the tax base, so that we can pay for the old bonds we couldn’t pay for before we floated the new bonds.

      “How do we pay for the new bonds?” you ask – see above.

      It’s a lovely system. The banks, the politicians, certain businesses, and certain members of the community do quite well.

      What do they care, you’re paying for it. Well, you and your children.