Council puts over $20 million toward SMIC breakwater

Heidi Zemach for SCN -

Marathon Wrestling Club receives recognition by Seward Mayor Jean Bardarson.

Marathon Wrestling Club receives recognition by Seward Mayor Jean Bardarson.

The breakwater project planned for across the bay at Seward Marine Industrial Center (SMIC) will soon get underway. The Seward City Council paved the way at Monday’s March 24th council meeting, passing a resolution to put the first $10 million from the State of Alaska grant into the City’s bank account and another to accept a state transportation department bond for $10 million. Council also voted to spend nearly $1.4 million more on a contract to its engineering firm, R&M Consultants to complete the coastal marine engineering it started, and to start putting out bids to contractors to do the work.

R & M did the design and engineering for the first phase of the project, and will be working on its second phase next, which includes dredging, excavation, and additional improvements within the basin area to allow further expansion, new berths and docks.  If construction of the new breakwater begins as planned this summer, the work might be completed within the year, said City Manager Jim Hunt.

The new breakwater would provide protection for large ships at SMIC, including the Coastal Villages fishing fleet,  the new research vessel Sikuliak, and the ice free port in Alaska would accommodate increasing numbers of vessels used in Arctic oil exploration and development and those who are expected to use newly available arctic shipping channels.

Seward’s request for $7.9 million to complete the breakwater was not on Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s capital project funding list for 2014, however. City administrators, the mayor, and Seward’s hired lobbyists are trying to persuade lawmakers to put those funds put back in.

In other matters, the council agreed to wave competitive procurement requirements and purchase a new International Digger/Derrick truck for up to $296,000 for the electric department. It will replace an aging truck that has experienced continual problems and has cost the city a great deal to repair.  International is apparently the only company in Anchorage that can provide maintenance and repairs on that type of equipment.

Council also authorized the city manager to purchase a lot in Gateway Subdivision for $98,000, where a new city water tank will go.

Council approved an amendment to the City Clerk’s employment agreement, increasing her salary by three percent, an amount equivalent to the 2014 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that municipal employees receive. Seward’s City Clerk does not participate in standard employee step increases or cost of living adjustments, but council felt she should, based on a successful job evaluation.



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There were also several proclamations and awards presented:

-Beverly Dunham was recognized for her induction into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

-a “Choose Respect” proclamation on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

-April was proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

-a certificate of appreciation went to the new Marathon Wrestling Club—which recently brought 1,000 people to Seward March 8th for their first tournament that featured over 90 wrestling matches for children of all ages.

– a proclamation recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.

-recognition for several volunteer firefighters for their accomplishments.

Finally, a woman visiting from Anchorage to escape a bedbug crisis in her apartment building, told the council about her Kafkaesque experiences while in Seward on Saint Patrick’s Day. They included getting physically assaulted by her female friend at a local bar, who was drunk, because the police told her she could not defend herself or risk assault charges herself; and going to the hospital where she claimed they insisted on looking for drugs and getting her a psychological evaluation before treatment.

The mayor gave her two additional minutes once she had used up her three minutes allowed under Citizen’s Comments to get to the point, but looking apologetic, cut her off and gaveled the meeting to a close before she could finish her tale.

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