City of Seward, Council, Featured

13 June 2016 City Council meeting sets agenda for the future

13 June City MeetingBy Mike Bissonette for SCN –

With flags at half-staff, on a bright sunny Monday night, a moment of silence in honor of the fallen from the Orlando terrorist attack was observed prior to getting down to business as usual.

Tom MacAlear, the Vice President and General Manager of Alaska Denali Travel spoke about the controversy regarding recent statements about the recent purchase of Kenai Fjords Tours. Mr. MacAlear is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a Certified Hotel Administrator with more than 20 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He spoke to the vision of “Introducing Alaska to the World” and the Kenai Fjords Tours ethos of “keeping our head down and working hard”. He pointed out that Kenai Fjords Tours brings in more than $1,000,000 to Seward employees and employs 51 families in Seward. Mr. MacAlear took issue with statements made at a previous City Council meeting that implied issues with the Alaska Denali Travel acquisition of local business from CIRI. He pointed out that not only was the acquisition of business was within the law and voluntary, but was initiated by CIRI approaching Kenai Fjords Tours. The Council clarified that the comments in question were not intended to imply that the acquisition wasn’t legal, but to point out that the council did not fully understand the existing laws at the time of the sale.

Corrections Officer Jeremy Sandy was recognized as the Spring Creek Correctional Center employee of the year. His public accolades and a dinner at the Peking Diner on Fourth Avenue will recognize his hard work and dedication. The program of recognizing outstanding employees at Spring Creek was established in 1991.

A public hearing for public ordinance 2016-005 was scheduled for June 27th. This ordinance related to Marijuana dispensaries being established in the city of Seward.

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Seward’s summer season very nearly developed a waste disposal problem when Borough Assembly proposed closing the landfill every Thursday. Seward’s representatives pointed out that during the tourist season garbage trucks from the port have to get to the landfill daily and storing garbage in trucks overnight would violate a host of regulations. The Borough relented and the Thursday dump closures will be delayed until the fall.

Since the road to Lowell Point was constructed in 1961 with funding from the Pioneer Access Road Fund, it has been the single road connection between Lowell Point and the city of Seward. The years have taken their toll on the road. Council Member Dale Butts addressed the need to address the condition of the Lowell Point potentially through the State’s Threat Mitigation Grant. The shortfall of this grant being that it will only fund one project per year. The current shortfall in the project being selected is due to a lack of demonstrable statistics of exactly how dangerous the road is. Without exact numbers of accidents or injuries caused by the road conditions, Seward’s bid for assistance will face long odds.

The discussion of City Ordinance 2016-002 regarding the transfer of moorage in the Seward boat harbor was in depth and unusually lengthy. At issue were core principles of legality and philosophy with a very direct real world impact on the Seward economy. By Alaska State law, the tide lands are public land and cannot be held indefinitely by any one individual. A person can hold the title to a slip in the harbor but once they give up ownership it goes back to the public. An example being if someone sells their boat, the new owner does not automatically get the moorage because it reverts to the public, and the next person in line will get the first opportunity to get it while the new boat owner goes to the bottom of the list of applicants. Legally a corporation is considered a ‘person’ because it can own property, be legally and civilly liable for their actions. The point of discord was that while a person’s family can’t inherit their slip because the name on the title changes, a corporation can hold onto a slip for generations because the corporate name remains on the title. Several members of the city council felt this system favors big corporations over individuals and small family businesses. This was somewhat mitigated by the fact that a corporation would lose its title and be moved to the bottom of the list if its controlling interest in the company changed. In the end the ordinance passed with two dissenting votes.

Craig Ambrosiani and David Carlton were elected to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Mr. Ambrosiani’s term will expire in February 2019 and Mr. Carlton’s in February 2018.

The City Council adjourned on a positive note with discussion of the upcoming fourth of July celebration and the corresponding fireworks display.

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