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

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

City predicts dredging in fall, paving next year

Breakwater and water projects underway


Concerns at the previous Seward City Council meeting over a loss of street construction funds were allayed this week by City Manager James Hunt in his bi-monthly report at Monday’s regular City Council session. City administration received confirmation from the Alaska Department of Transportation that all funds designated under city resolutions were still in play and that preliminary surveying, engineering and prep work for paving city streets would begin this summer.

The down side was that since ADOT hasn’t named a project manager yet, actual paving is unlikely to occur until next year. On the other hand, sidewalk improvements are imminent and expected to be completed by the end of May. Federal flood relief funds from FEMA will go toward summer reinforcement projects on Dieckgraeff, Phoenix and Barwell roads. This will complement the work being done on the Dairy Hill drainage mitigation project which includes new larger and more linear culverts.

The city Public Works Department is looking at rebuilding the pedestrian causeway above Lowell Creek below the outfall. That portion of the bridge was ravaged by flood waters, boulders and excavating equipment, and a solution will be targeted by mid-May. Public Works had their hands full last week when a minor sewage lagoon formed on the first floor of city hall. Fortunately the dredging efforts did not require permitting or legislative intervention.

With the appropriation of $1.3 million for Lowell Point wastewater lagoon dredging in the now concluded legislative session, city administration is nonetheless keeping the pressure on with initiatives to minimize odors over the summer until the dredging can take place. Various surface aeration systems are being priced for purchase in the near future after approvals are obtained from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Administration and council discussed the city’s successful bid a legislative appropriation for funding to cap off the costs for the Seward Marine Industrial Center breakwater project. Along with the $5.9 million required to complete the breakwater, the Alaska Legislature also including Seward within an Arctic development funding program specifically to enhance in-state fisheries fleet support.

Assistant City Manager Ron Long noted that only 10 percent of fishing off the coast of Western Alaska is at least nominally based in the state, with 90 percent controlled by interests out of Washington state. Under this new state program, those outside interests will also be able to financed through the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

He said the new initiative puts Seward in a competitive position as an Alaskan community strategically well positioned by both geography and, now, financing. According to Long one of the foremost challenges to attracting new business to Alaska is access to capital. With that addressed by the legislation, he said the next step will be marketing Seward, as AIDEA really doesn’t do that.

The council set a work session to discuss the future of a 1.84-acre storage yard along the Seward Highway between City Express and the Seward Animal Clinic. The property at 11555 Seward Highway has been used to store electrical equipment, spools of cable and power poles for the city’s Electric Department. Department staff is eyeing the property for redevelopment as a power substation in the near future.

The main power lines feeding the Seward area are just few miles short of a complete upgrade to a higher capacity of 115 kVA which will have a side benefit of lowering transmission costs. The change will require a substation to handle load handling and distribution when it comes time to tie the lines in at the higher power.

Staff is concerned that any move to dispose of the property, which is ideally situated for the purpose, will result in a high dollar property acquisition soon thereafter. With easily developable property at premium in the target area for the substation, the Electric Department is keen to keep the bird at hand.

The council will also consider the various proposals for use of the former Air Force Recreation Camp lease site. Various entities are vying for some piece or all of the centrally located property. One proposal is for senior housing and city departments are also interested in either expanding public facilities or establishing new ones on the sprawling property. The omnibus work session on the disposition of city properties is set for 6 p.m., May 22.


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