The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Council reviews trails and rails

 

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Seward resident Tim McDonald points to the route for a shoreside trail he is promoting. The concept drawing was part of a presentation McDonald made before the Seward City Council Monday, where he and Dan Seavey advocated improvements to the local trail system, including access to the Iditarod Trail trailhead on Nash Road.

Two Sewardites were recognized for their public service at the outset of Monday’s Seward City Council meeting. John French was applauded for his work representing the Seward area on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council over the past decade. His successor, Jim Herbert, was present at the meeting to be installed as the city’s new representative on the body, maintaining a local presence in advance of RCAC’s next meeting in May. City of Seward harbor safety overseer Flip Foldager’s Governor’s Special Achievement Award for Safety was reinforced by a proclamation by Mayor Seaward.

Alaska Railroad Corporation Vice President of Facilities Jim Kubitz gave an overview of the ARRC’s plans for improvements within their Seward properties including their docks along Resurrection Bay. He expressed enthusiasm that they would find a way to increase freight dock capacity by October as a first step to keep pace with growing customer shipping traffic. The comprehensive plan that the ARRC has been frequently updating in preparation for filing for federal funding is approaching a stable version ready for specific funding requests.

Councilor Vanta Shafer introduced a formal appeal to the council challenging Mayor David Seaward’s determination of conflict of interest regarding Councilor Marianna Keil and Councilor Jean Bardarson’s membership on the Community Health Center board. City Attorney Cheryl Brooking brought up the nature of a procedural error during council’s last meeting of March 26. She noted that, despite her presence at the meeting at which the determination was first asserted, a simultaneous ruling for both city councilors was incorrect and each potential conflict of interest should be ruled on separately. After brief discussion, Mayor Seaward said he would accept Brooking’s legal advice on the matter and would rule on each conflict separately in the future.

Rezoning of a parcel of city owned land at the small boat harbor has generated some comment resulting in the action being tabled pending a land management inventory and report. As local businessman Tom Tougas pointed out, land available for small business development is in short supply in Seward, especially in the area of the small boat harbor. “If we are ever going to be serious about encouraging investment and innovation in Seward we need to address the chokehold that the city has on land,” said Tougas in an email to city administration. “I oppose this effort to rezone at this time unless it’s part of a larger harbor development plan. This might be a good location for the harbormaster office or shop rather than using high value harbor [frontage] land for parking the harbor [vehicle] fleet.”

Two Seward area trail projects are capturing the imagination of proponents and the public alike. The long time initiative to improve the original Iditarod trailhead and establish a useable trail system northward along Kenai Lake and through Moose Pass is paralleling another proposal to tie the Iditarod Trail into downtown Seward with a seaside trail along the shores of Resurrection Bay. Another proposal is to improve Exit Glacier Road, rebadged Herman Leirer Road in 1998, adding a bike and pedestrian trail along its 8.2 mile length from the Seward Highway to the Exit Glacier campground. Local civic champions Tim McDonald and Dan Seavey both advocated formalizing a trail corridor along the bay between Nash Road and the small boat harbor including establishing an easement through ARRC property in conjunction with the realignments and improvements that the ARRC is proposing.

Some of the practical aspects of the new trail such as how to traverse the Resurrection River floodplain were not fully developed in the brief presentation. McDonald mentioned the possibility of tunneling under the riverbed using special culvert, which is frequently used successfully throughout the state in roughly similar circumstances for other trails. He also indicated that he has been thinking along these lines for some time with this project in mind, having established easements for the proposed trail on family property.

In harbor related news from the city manager’s desk, Raibow Fiberglass and Boat Repair LLC, is expanding their business to an additional location across the bay. The local company, owned by Dave Phillips, has requested a long term lease at Seward Marine Industrial Center. The proposed site is less than one acre between Nash Road and Alaska Logistics. Raibow’s current business operation is north of the Small Boat Harbor at 1712 Alameda Ave.

The city manager also noted that proposed changes to the Seward area federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM’s) were introduced June 10, 2010, and the comment, review, and appeal periods have closed. The new maps and base flood elevations contained therein will become effective Sept. 27, 2013. In order to maintain eligibility in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the city must adopt those maps and incorporate other related changes in the floodplain code, Title 16 of the City of Seward Code, before that date. City administration has scheduled the proposed changes to go before the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission at their June 4 meeting. The Seward City Council will consider the adoption of the final changes June 24.

 

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