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

By Fern Greenbank
LOG Editor 

Community transportation plan gets grant boost

 


Last week the USDA officially approved a grant that will assist multiple agencies in Seward in the implementation of a coordinated transportation plan.

The plan has been in the works for almost two years, said Dana Paperman, executive director of the Senior Center, who started the ball rolling by responding to an invitation to apply for funding by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA).

A comprehensive transportation plan was created by a list of agencies with similar needs. The list includes the City of Seward, the Seward Health Center, the Seward Independent Living Center, the Seward Ministerial Association, SeaView Community Services, Seward Taxi, Providence Hospital, Alaska Mobility Coalition, the Qutekcak Native Tribe and the regional coordinating agency Central Area Rural Transit System (CARTS).

Getting that many agencies on the same page was a challenge, said Paperman.

“We all recognized the need for partnership, so we didn’t have any problem with a shared goal,” Paperman said.

In 2010, the groups came together to create the Seward Public Transit Human Services Community Coordinated Plan. The group continued to meet for more than a year, but soon realized that creating a business plan to carry out the plan was a challenge.

The Seward Senior Center and its partners want to link people, jobs and community in a convenient, safe and reliable way, said Paperman. But, the plan isn’t just about seniors or social services. The plan also wants to accommodate visitors and the need for transportation to Anchorage and other destinations on the Kenai Peninsula where many health care opportunities exist and shopping and other services are offered.

What the groups needed, said Paperman, was technical assistance putting the plan into action. Who will be responsible for central coordination and what is the role of each partner? The new grant will help the group map out the nitty gritty details. The lead agency for the project is the Central Area Rural Transit System under the direction of Jennifer Beckman.

The grant approved by the USDA estimates that at least 10 new transportation related jobs will be created as a result of the plan and as many as 25 new jobs in the community. An additional 30 residents would have access to jobs because of added transportation services, says the grant.

The technical assistance proposed comes in the form of experts. Paperman said the assistance is offered for a 12-month period and it is hoped that a plan will be fully implemented by 2016. The plan involves pooling of resources from vans to people so overlap is not using up valuable resources.

“The Map21 federal vision is all about thinking collectively and collaborating,” said Paperman. “That’s what this grant is all about, people working together to serve more people more efficiently.”

 

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