Last night the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly decided to postpone a vote on its capital improvement projects priority list. An eight item list was before the assembly as a resolution, but concerns over one of the projects on the list, and the absence of three assembly members, led to its postponement until the October 3 regular meeting.
Assemblyman Mel Stephens took issue with the third project on the list, which asks for $500,000 from the state to look at extending public utilities to swampy acres. The thought is that more Coast Guard housing will be built in the area, which currently has no water or sewer lines. Stephens said it didn’t make sense that public money would be put toward a private property owner.
But Borough Mayor Jerome Selby said the hope is that the project would be a pubic/private partnership, and help soften Kodiak’s housing crisis. In fact, he said the item was put on the CIP list at the request of the housing committee.
“It’s a joint city, borough, Coast Guard housing committee. It is on here at the request of the Coast Guard because they are interested in doing a joint public/private construction of housing for the Coast Guard, since the probability of them being able to get funding for housing through the federal system is slim to none, given the federal budget picture. So the whole idea behind this was to be able to get some housing constructed for the Coast Guard so that they can have the option of bringing additional vessels. Because of the Arctic effort that’s now a Coast Guard responsibility, there is an opportunity to bring another vessel, I believe one C-130 and two helicopters to Kodiak, if there was housing available for them.”
He said the money the borough would get from the state would only be for
design and cost estimate, and help fully explore whether or not a
project like that would be feasible.
Austerman sits on the housing task force and said the housing problem in
Kodiak is multifaceted and will take a lot of work from a lot of
different entities to fully solve. However, she said additional Coast
Guard housing would certainly help.
“We have to start somewhere to work on the problem with
housing that we have in our community. This is an opportunity to work
with the Coast Guard and hopefully provide some housing for Coast Guard
members that then those people would move out of rental housing in town
and be able to free up rental opportunities for locals. So I think that
we do have an obligation as a borough to start to work on solving this
housing problem in our community and this is one way to start that.”
In the end the item was postponed so a full assembly could further
discuss keeping the item on the borough’s CIP list. Once approved, the
list will be sent off to Governor Sean Parnell and Alaska legislators
for the 2014 legislative session. The list will also be used for various
grant applications in the upcoming year.
Another resolution on
the agenda passed the assembly unanimously. That resolution requests the
governor to include $100 million in his FY 2015 capital budget that would
be put toward a vessel replacement fund for the ferry Tustumena. The
resolution’s passage was rather timely, as Selby announced yet another
delay for the ship.
so now it’s to go back into service on October 20. Now it’s going to
start to get pretty interesting here because the Kennicott will go into
the shipyard on October 17. That is the mandated shipyard visit by the
Coast Guard. They don’t have the option of continuing to use the
Kennicott to come down here until it goes into the shipyard. So if they
don’t get the Tusty up and running, we may be without ferry service for a
The ship has been out of service for almost a year,
undergoing repairs at Seward Ships Drydock. Inadequate material and poor
workmanship have caused several months of delays in the Tusty’s return