City of Seward, Council, Featured, Harbor News

City Council: Seward Hopes to Remain a Coast Guard Port

Seward Residents Cindy Clock, Jeremy Horn, Shelly Shank & Elle Zernia receive City Proclamation from Councilmember Altermatt and Mayor Jean Bardarson honoring them for their efforts in organizing the Mermaid Festival and Harbor Opening.

Last night the Seward City Council met in the early evening of a lovely spring day, the outside world fully lit with the day’s fading light throughout the length of the meeting. What a change from winter meetings. Spring temperatures have thawed nearly all of the snow around town and we once again have green lawns and plants beginning to sprout.

The meeting began with proclamations, including one honoring the group of Sewardites who have been working to organize the upcoming Mermaid Festival, which will be held alongside Seward’s Boat Harbor Opening weekend May 19-21. Elle Zernia, along with Shelly Shank of the Breeze Inn, Jeremy Horn and Chamber Director Cindy Clock received the Proclamation. Zernia expressed gratitude to Sewardites for the “outpouring of support” that they have received while planning for the festival. A proclamation announcing National Historic Preservation Month was bestowed on Resurrection Bay Historical Society (RBHS) member John French who announced that there are currently 4 vacancies and interested parties are invited to apply to be part of their ongoing preservation work.

Resurrection Bay Historical Society member John French receiving Proclamation from Mayor Jean Bardarson.

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In the coming years, the Coast Guard will be replacing their current fleet of Cutters in Alaska with new Fast Response Cutter ships, which will be stationed in pairs around Alaska, instead of their current configuration of one ship per port. This will reduce the Coast Guard’s costs in Alaska by reducing the number of required shoreside positions by 150 persons. The US Coast Guard has already decided to use Ketchikan as one of their ports and Kodiak is likely to be chosen as the second. This leaves one other location undecided and available. Assistant City Manager Ron Long and Seward Mayor Jean Bardarson reported on their recent trip to Washington D.C. in which they presented a case to the US Coast Guard that Seward should be chosen as the Prince William Sound Coast Guard port. According to Long, Seward has a strong case because of the town’s centralized location for patrolling tanker traffic traveling into Cook Inlet, as well as Prince William Sound. Bardarson reported that Terry Federer was also present at these meetings with the Coast Guard and explained the benefit of having AVTEC in the town where they home port, because it would allow the crew to do continued training while shoreside. According to Long, the Coast Guard will announce their decision by the end of this calendar year.

Bardarson and Long reported that their trip to Washington DC included discussion with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the future of the Lowell Canyon diversion tunnel. Bardarson conveyed that the Alaska Corps rates this project as their number one priority. At present, the tunnel and its maintenance is under the financial jurisdiction of the Corps, but financial responsibility is scheduled to be turned back over to the City of Seward in 2022. The tunnel diverts water through a concrete hole in Bear Mountain. This is water coming out of Lowell Canyon that used to flow down Seward’s Jefferson Street. The tunnel is in need of repairs and is costly to maintain, due to the large amounts of sediment that flow through the tunnel each year. Bardarson was part of a team that lobbied for the Corps to extend the date of financial transfer until a long term solution can be found and agreed upon, as solutions are currently being studied for less costly long term solutions.

The Seward 2030 Comprehensive Plan was presented to City Council by Resolution 2017-028, which is a step in the process of asking the Kenai Peninsula Borough to approve the document. Ron Long added a few requests for updates in the future land use map, including bringing park designation to the lands near the Lagoon, as this land is unbuildable. Councilmember Squires also had a list of proposed amendments to the Comp Plan. Resurrection Bay Historical Society (RBHS) member John French requested time to further review the document at their next meeting for historical preservation concerns.. The Resolution will be revisited at the next City Council meeting, which is scheduled to be held on Monday, May 22nd at 7pm. This meeting will be preceded by a City Council work session on Housing at 5pm.

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