By Heidi Zemach for SCN
A group of about six or seven members of Y.E. S., or Young Entrepreneurs of Seward, attended Monday night’s City Council Meeting—just to listen and learn. They sat intently through the two and a half hours evening of presentations and discussions, and hopefully some will return to participate in the effort to make Seward more business-friendly.
Duane Chase, the President of the Seward Nordic Ski Club also was there to give a presentation on that most active group of Seward area volunteers, on the work they do grooming trails every winter, and to ask the city’s assistance in helping them obtain used even better grooming equipment that the City of Valdez might offer up for sale early next year. Council members promised to write the City of Valdez a letter to support their efforts. They said groups like theirs benefits Seward’s winter businesses by attracting people to the area.
There also were a handful of people from the Seward Mural Society, who have been hard at work designing, replicating, and putting together the shipping details for the 2013 Obihiro Mural Exchange Project. The mural will be placed at the Obihiro zoo, after being recreated in our sister-city. Its replica, created at the Seward Music & Arts festival, will be placed on a building opposite our waterfront baseball field.
Lois Daubney, who was the Public Health Nurse for 30 years in Seward prior to her recent retirement, came forward to receive a City proclamation thanking her for her dedication and service to the health and well-being of the community.
City Approves Cruise Ship Taxes for work ARRC Terminal:
In other business, the council, (without Christy Terry as she works for the Alaska Railroad and had been deemed at the last meeting to have a conflict of interest), voted to reconsider a resolution that they had earlier rejected. One that used Commercial Passenger Vessel Tax Funds( cruise ship passenger head taxes) for capital projects to improve the Alaska Railroad Corporation Cruise Ship terminal parking area.
After much deliberation and amending, the council unanimously passed Resolution 2012-091 appropriating $208,150 to provide pavement repairs and striping at the ARRC terminal. But, not before passing two amendments to the resolution and failing to pass a third. They passed Bob Valdatta’s amendment that deleted the work replacing depleted and failed passive anodes beneath the cruise ship dock for rust prevention purposes, and removing an old gantry crane rail in the parking area.
Valdatta felt strongly that repairs and maintenance were the railroad’s own responsibility—and not a proper use of cruise ship passenger taxes. He also had ideas on what he felt were better uses of those taxes. The council also passed Jean Bardarson’s amendment asking for clear signs at the terminal pointing to the indoor restrooms, the outdoor baggage loading area, to the Small Boat Harbor, downtown Seward, and the Railway Depot. But it failed to pass Mayor Seaward’s amendment that would have deleted $50,000 from the total, the amount that had been the proposed cost for repairing and replacing the dock’s infrastructure. Council members voting against it said they should not require that the railroad provide additional signage while also deleting some of the needed money. The administration said they believed that the railroad would return (“reconcile”) any unspent funds.
No More Hook Up Requirements:
In other matters, the council passed an ordinance revising the City Code to eliminate the requirement for electrical deposits for reserved (tenant) moorage customers at the Small Boat Harbor, and to eliminate the requirement that those vessels be connected to electric service. Both revisions were approved by the advisory board, PACAB.
Council also passed a resolution amending the 2012 General Fund Budget for Raw Fish Tax proceeds, and appropriating funds. The City had received almost $200,000 more in raw fish taxes than they had originally budgeted for. The resolution will make $51,000 of that amount available for salmon enhancement efforts in Resurrection Bay. The remaining $144,600 will fund general government capital repair and replacement needs. Actual fish tax proceeds came to $519,600 this year.
Unpermitted Discharges at Shipyard:
During his City Manager’s report, Jim Hunt ran through a lengthy list of purchases the city administration had made, and activities performed by the various departments. He said he had recently met with officials from Shell Oil Company, and had made progress in improving the city’s relationship with that company, and with the company of other ships that accompanied them on drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean. Hunt also met with other marine vessel operators, and said the meetings also were productive.
Hunt briefly mentioned the city’s cleanup of two unpermitted discharges by Seward Shipyard at Seward Marine Industrial Center, or SMIC, in his absence. One was a ballast water discharge from the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry Tustumena. The second unpermitted discharge of fresh water was from work being done on the the USCG buoy tender Maple, across a road surface at SMIC.
Once the Alaska Department of Conservation contacted the shipyard about complaints and photographs submitted by concerned residents, both discharges were immediately tested by the city harbor department, and properly cleaned up by the harbor department, with the guidance of DEC, said Assistant Manager Ron Long said. The city had also billed the shipyard for the harbor staff’s time and cleaning costs, Long said.
DEC also has notified the shipyard that the discharges were not permitted under its 2009 Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities (MSGP) does not allow it to discharge any ballast or coolant waters onto the ground. DEC Compliance & Enforcement Program Manager Chris Foley also asked the shipyard to submit copies of annual comprehensive inspections it should have had done over the past few years, as the agency could find none of those reports in its own files.
The shipyard has a history of regulatory violations, and alleged violations concerning the disposal of ship-repair related waste, wastewater discharges and fugitive sandblast dust stretching back to at least 2004. The City of Seward recently made the final reimbursement payment of $25,000 in legal expenses to Trustees for Alaska, the non-profit public interest law firm that represented RBCA and Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the prevailing parties in a seven-year lawsuit against the city to compel the city to obtain proper permits for the boat repair facility and small boat harbor.
Mayor David Seaward said residents were concerned about issues at the shipyard at SMIC, and questioned why he had not been notified of the discharges from administration, rather than hearing of it first in the Seward Phoenix Log newspaper. Long assured the mayor that he and the harbor department had done everything required by DEC, and had swiftly and properly dealt with both discharge incidents. He acknowledged the mayor’s request for future notification.
(Name of USCG Vessel has been corrected: It was not the Hickory)HZ