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

Rocking the Boat


The following is from the editorial page of the March 19, 1992 Seward Phoenix LOG.

VOTERS TURNED OUT in big numbers for Monday’s vote on the Seward General Hospital management issue. About 500 folks went to the polls, and voted by a nearly four-to-one margin to let the Community Hospital Board continue to oversee management, rather than have the city do it. The last time Seward had a referendum was in December 1989 when voters decided not to repeal a bar hours ordinance. The ordinance required bars to close at 2 a.m. rather than 5 a.m. About 450 residents voted in that election.

One of the interesting things about this recent referendum is the lopsided outcome. The community was fairly evenly divided on the bar hours issues, and that was reflected at the polls. Monday, voters said overwhelmingly that they do not want the city to run the hospital.

But does the recent vote reflect the level of community satisfaction with Seward General and the way it is now being run? Did voters, in effect, say things are going well at the hospital, or did they just say city management is not a solution? The answer to those questions would be hard to determine. But whatever the answer, hopefully the hospital board and the city council will now put arguing aside and work together.

SEWARD DIDN’T GET ANY BIG SURPRISES when Gov. Hickel released his $300 million capital budget last week. None of the top projects the city would like to get rolling were funded in his draft. And, the big disappointment is the hospital. For years Seward has been trying to either replace or refurbish the aging structure. Now the city will have to look to the Legislature for funding, but declining oil revenues makes that prospect a real long shot.

It is good to see that the Alaska Vocational Technical Center got some funds. Part of the $300,000 – assuming the suggested appropriation makes it through the Legislature – will go toward putting together plans for more student housing. AVTEC has needed additional housing for years, and students have had to stay in hotels because the dorms were full. AVTEC is vital to Seward and all of Alaska, and hopefully state government will continue to help the school reach its full potential.

TELEVISION VIEWERS have not been able to hear much of what is said during city council meetings for months. Invariably, a viewer will call city hall and a note will be passed into council chambers asking that people speak up. The problem has been the temperamental electronic equipment the city uses to record meetings. Cablevision said last week recent repairs to microphones and adjustments to other equipment, which the company did without charge, should take care of the problem. That’s good news. Hopefully the changes make a difference.

BUSINESS OWNERS who favor the proposed Nash Road harbor project have recently been trying to drum up some community support for the plan. Afognak Logging owner Al Schafer has said he would like to build a harbor and foot the major portion of the construction costs. The project would not come without cost to the city, and there are numerous problems that could arise if the project is pursued. But some residents think growth is needed if the community is going to thrive. Seward definitely needs more harbor space. If southward expansion of the existing harbor won’t fly, and we pass up the Nash Road project, we have to ask a serious question – when will we get the opportunity to build again? The way expensive multi-agency projects go, it could be a long time.


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