By Russell Stigall for Seward City News —
Before the most recent city council meeting, on August 22, Gov. Bill Walker had yet to visit Seward and Exit Glacier was in the process of washing away. On the morning of a Special City Council meeting, below is recap of August’s final council meeting and a pregame for September’s first.
- Derelict land parcels on First Avenue and the 400 block of Madison are slated for imminent clean-up
- Founders Day marks 113th anniversary of the arrival of Seward’s founders to Resurrection Bay, August 28, 1903.
- 2016 Seward Silver Salmon Derby sees fewer and fatter fish, rain rain rain
- Tonight: funding Seward Community Health Center
Several foreclosed properties on the East side of First Avenue, 516 – 522, and another at 408 Madison Avenue are slated for demolition, clean-up and eventual sale.
Local contractor Harmon Construction was officially awarded a Professional Services Agreement Monday night at the Seward City Council Meeting. Harmon responded to a City of Seward Request for Proposals with its winning bid of $58, 903 for abatement, demolition and removal service.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough asked the City to foreclose on the properties and take ownership due to a cessation of tax payments, Assistant City Manager Ron Long said after Monday’s meeting. The city has owned the properties since 2013.
Those back taxes will get paid though. Borough regulation requires the City to sell the properties and use the revenue to repay the tax, recoup its costs and return any leftover funds to the original land owners. No profit for City coffers.
“We play the hand we got dealt,” Long said.
Once reclaimed, the First Avenue lots can be further subdivided as per city council direction. The hope is that these properties will eventually return to generating tax revenue.
Those living nearby have expressed their concern to city staff about conditions at the properties for a number of years. According to Seward City Council Resolution 2016-053 the derelict parcels and residing structures are an “extreme eye sore and are public safety hazards.”
Sharyl Seese “number one” lives across First Avenue from from two of the foreclosed buildings. She said she believes the city could sell the properties and buildings intact.
“Put them for sell as is,” Seese said. “Save themselves some money.”
Seward Memorial United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Doepken had come down off Mount Marathon jeep trail and agreed to an interview. He said he walks the First Avenue neighborhood regularly.
“It hasn’t bothered me,” Doepken said of the buildings. “But I’m not the next door neighbor. I’m not a property owner.”
Doepken said he is more concerned with a lack of housing in Seward.
“Housing is a big issue for Seward,” Doepken said. “Seward has a housing need.”
Homeowners who border the First Avenue and Fourth Avenue properties were unavailable for immediate comment.
Harmon Construction is expected to demolish the buildings in early September.
In a separate but related matter certain properties at the Army Recreation Camp may get a spruce-up in the spring of 2017.
City Council recognized Founders Day to celebrate the arrival of the steamer Santa Ana, with 83 men, women and children, to Resurrection Bay on August 22, 1903. City founder, John Ballaine, named the new town after President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William H. Seward.
Seward’s Resurrection Bay Historical Society hosted a Founder’s Day Open House at the Library Museum Community Room on August 28.
William H. Seward’s great great grand-nephew visited Seward in August.
Chamber of Commerce report
Seward Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Clock reported on chamber highlights.
Heavy rains made for a damp derby this year. The 61st Seward Silver Salmon Derby “was a tough one,” Clock said, “I didn’t know how dedicated these derby fishermen were until this year. They were out there every day.”
The weather was not good for outdoor human endeavor.
“We expect that, right,” Clock said. “But usually there are lots and lots of fish. This year not so much.”
First place winner Mike Hanson triumphed with a Silver topping 16 pounds.
Otto Hanson caught a tag fish this year. The lucky fella also won the derby 20 years ago. He has fished Seward’s salmon derby since 1969. His fished carried a tag good for two tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.
“I think he is looking to go to Maui [Hawaii],” Clock said.
Fewer, fatter fish. Anglers turned in 517 fish with a total weight of over two and a half tons.
“About a third of what we usually get,” Clock said. However, the average weight per fish was two pounds heavier than those submitted in 2015.
2016’s relatively fewer fish were caught by a correspondingly fewer anglers.
However, “it was still successful as far as participation,” Clock said.
Seward is seeing more visitors from China and India.
Seward City Manager Report
Seward’s lobbying efforts paid off in the State’s rapid approval of time-sensitive power line work in Snow River.
Seward made the “short list” as a location for one or two U.S. Coast Guard Cutters.
Tonight in council chambers
A special meeting of Seward’s City Council is scheduled for this evening at 5:30 p.m. Its purpose is to find agreement on the 2017 Grant Year Budget for the Seward Community Health Center as per Resolution 2016-054. The Center is asking for $400,000 from the City for the 2017 grant year – subject to approval and later deliberations.
City Hall is under repair. While services continue, locations may change. Tuesday’s city council meeting is scheduled to be conducted at the Seward Community Library in its Community Room.