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

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

City sewage solution within reach


With the Governor's sign-off on $1.7 million in related legislative appropriations last week, the City of Seward will contract out the draining and dredging of both municipal sewage treatment lagoons this summer. However, either or both projects may not be completed until next spring, and the city is installing new aerators in the wastewater ponds which is expected to make such delays pass the smell test.

With tacit approval for disposal of the sludge at one of the Kenai Peninsula Borough's facilities, Seward Assistant City Manager Ron Long said after at the May 26 Seward City Council meeting that it's up to the contractor where the actual dumping takes place. Borough approval merely provides at least one reasonable alternative where, until recently, there appeared to be none.

A request for proposals is being prepared that will define the twin projects, and give Lowell Point residents a second dose of relief to accompany the new aerators. And, according to Long, if some canny contractor can log better returns from an alternative disposal method, that's their privilege. Although the borough did raise its dumping fees just ahead of the city's large load of waste, the funds just made available by the legislature will cover the cost.

Residents have also been talking trash with numerous complaints fielded by the city concerning stray refuse at a local grocery store as well as irregular summer garbage pickups in the downtown core. The City of Seward has a contract with Waste Management, Alaska for trash service including the emptying of streetside receptacles.

City manager Jim Hunt said that management at the Seward Highway Safeway store was approached on at least a couple of occasions and that administration would continue to cajole municipal trash contractor toward more timely collection, especially after weekends. City Councilor Christy Terry recommended moving to enforcement action if administrative notices are not successful at clearing up the Safeway trash problem.

Michael Insalaco, a local energy systems designer and installer who has worked with the city's electrical department to develop policies and procedures for adding alternative electrical generation systems to the city's electrical system, had one final observation previous to the passage of the ordinance he helped develop.

The issue, which Insalaco asserted was not necessarily a fatal flaw, was that there was no recourse if city electrical department operatives denied applications based on incorrect or inconsistent interpretation of the ordinance and its definitions. With such a small department along with dependence on third party authority, applicants might find themselves denied on personal, random, illusory, or subjective grounds.

Insalaco's cautionary aside caused another delay on the enactment of changes that will allow local residents to apply to the city to attach their windmill or other alt-energy project to the city grid as they struck a chord with city Councilor Terry, who recounted historic instances of apparently arbitrary behavior displayed by city departments.

After a slew of ordinance amendments prepared in advance regarding another matter, Terry seemed unwilling to attempt an extemperaneous modification of the ordinance. The enactment of the changes was tabled pending the development of language to provide some insurance of objectivity in the evaluation of the technical aspects of electrical or alt-energy interconnect applications.

Cindy Clock, executive director of the Seward Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Bureau, noted that the chamber's annual membership drive is underway with current total of 329 members with 15 newly signed on. She also announced that Anchorage's television station, KTUU, has signed an agreement with the chamber to be the exclusive video broadcaster of the 2014 Mount Marathon Race.

Councilor Dale Butts queried Clock as to what her expectations were for a count of out of town visitors on the upcoming 3-day holiday weekend. As July 4 falls on a Friday this year, conventional wisdom says more visitors than usual are expected to stay in the Seward area to prolong the experience. Clock estimates the incoming crowd at around 30,000 and said that industry projections bet on 2014 to set all-time Alaska tourism records, exceeding the last pinnnacle, 2008.

Clock also declared that The Travel Channel, which currently has a video crew wrapping up a rash of recording in the area, was given rights to use the chamber's signature motto, "Seward, Alaska Starts Here." Expect to observe local unknowns and celebrities utter the phrase repeatedly on cable television when the as yet unnamed series debuts later this year.

According to Clock, local fisheries enhancement got a boost recently when 50,000 Trail Lake coho salmon fry were released at Bear Creek weir by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association under a contract with the chamber paid for by fish tax monies. Additionally, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocked the lagoon by the Seward small boat harbor with 95,000 silvers and Clock was pleased to note that they seemed to be unmolested by premature predation.

Finally, city administration and the city clerk's office have ironed out the last details for a permitting process for mobile and roving vendors and the city clerk will begin accepting applications for the new paid privileges on June 16. The policies and applications are available online at the city website under Business, Business Licenses.


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