City Council took place on a glorious Monday evening, with the swift breeze coming off of Resurrection Bay, boats streaming back into the Harbor and Mount Marathon looking resplendent in her evening summer light. The meeting itself was brief, quite unlike winter council meetings, which generally run for 2-3 hours. There was mention by City Manager Jim Hunt that the City has been making preparations for the upcoming Alaskaman Triathlon, including getting the rescue boats and buoys in place, as the race will commence with an early morning swim alongside Lowell Point Road on Saturday. Council Member Squires began a discussion on the need for new city ordinance with relation to fireworks, including potentially instituting a citation program. The topic will be discussed in a future work session and all present agreed that they were grateful for this year’s relative quiet with regards to fireworks and lack of injury to people and property.
City Manager Jim Hunt reported on recent purchase orders, including one for $11,600 to install a wind screen door on the Adams Street Pavilion, a project contracted to Harmon Construction. Council Member McClure reported that she had visited the Pavilion and seen that the project was already underway. Additionally, the City purchased new fire rings for the City Campground for a project costs of $19, 933.
A big topic affecting Seward this summer is the street paving schedule. City Council answered questions regarding the tentative schedule, which is weather and progress dependent. City Clerk Joanna Kinney stated that the City website will include updates on its homepage, under the “News & Announcements” heading. Providence Administrator Joe Fong has been working with City Manager Jim Hunt and Finance Director Kris Erchinger about making changes to how Mountain Haven, Providence’s long term care facility, operates. The goal is to better meet patient quotas. This and other topics related to Mountain Haven will be discussed further at 6pm on July 24th, preceding the next upcoming Council meeting.
After the meeting concluded, Public Works Director Doug Schoessler sat down with Seward City News to further discuss the paving project, in order to help better inform the citizens of Seward, as well as summer visitors to the town on what has been happening and what to expect in the coming weeks. According to Schoessler, the current paving project is a combination of two paving projects combined. One is the result of a Federal Grant that Seward received eight years ago. At that time, the streets most in need of paving were selected, which created a patchwork of where the paving would be done. In last fall’s election, Seward voters added up to 3 million of bond funds for road maintenance to fill in the gaps. The project was contracted to Knik Construction, based out of Kenai.
The crews have been working in town for over a month now. They began by constructing their plant, which is located off of the Seward Highway, out near Metco, Inc. and staging equipment. According to a press release from City Clerk Joanna Kinney, Knik has already completed Dieckgraeff Road (from Seward Highway to Maple Street), and Ash and Oak Streets to the Seward Mountain Haven Long Term Care Facility.
For the past few weeks, Knik has been in downtown Seward, working on the streets west of Third Avenue. They began work in this area in late June and then vacated the downtown area surrounding the July 4th holiday. The process of paving begins with grinding up the old road bed, which is then compacted together to fill any holes or low spots that have developed. Crews must mark and remove all of the manhole covers and water main covers prior to this grinding and compacting process, marking each of them individually with GPS coordinates, so that they can return them later. The process of grinding and compacting raises the level of the road, but only slightly, as sediments are constantly shifting and eroding. Prior to paving, each manhole is covered with a round piece of plywood, which allows the new pavement to extend right up to the manhole cover. The process of reshaping the road bed, marking manhole covers, compacting the roadbed and all of the other necessary preparation work takes the majority of the overall paving time. For the streets west of Third Avenue, actual paving is expected to begin on Thursday, July 13th. “Then it will go fast,” said City Manager Jim Hunt. When paving is completed, manhole and water main covers will be returned to their locations. It is crucial that these be slightly lower than the road bed, so that winter graders clearing snow will not catch hold of and damage them.
The next phase of the paving project will take place on the streets east of Third Avenue, primarily Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue and side streets. The process will once again begin with the grinding and reshaping phase, which includes compacting the ground up roadbed back together. Once again, from the City’s website and press release “The City of Seward is requesting to please avoid driving in these areas is possible, to help crews expedite the process.” The City of Seward website will post updates on the paving project as they become available. For further questions regarding the paving project, please contact Public Works at 907.224.4093
The next City Council meeting will be held on July 24th at 7pm in the City Council Chambers.