Council seeks partners for port upgrades
The Nome Common Council approved two measures at their regular meeting April 23 that they hoped would advance deep-draft port’s appeal to funding sources.
The Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Graphite Creek Project on land owned by Graphite One on the Seward Peninsula. The mining company can use the endorsement to push along Senate Bill 203, currently before the state Legislature. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Donny Olson, aims to authorize the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to provide supplemental financing for a surface transportation corridor to the proposed mine site.
A proposed bond authorization would go for construction of a 22-mile access road and infrastructure, as well as port improvements, power generation and infrastructure, with revenue bond contingency for a total of around $80 million.
The resolution says the Graphite Creek Project has a potential to provide increased local employment, infrastructure development and port wharfage fees. If a port were approved, the City would have to garner public and private investors to get it built.
The Council also voted in support of House Joint Resolution 33 and requests the U.S. Coast Guard authorize a seasonal forward operating location in Nome and also a deep draft Arctic port. HJR 33 urges Alaska’s federal delegation to pursue the establishment of an Arctic naval station, support an increase in defensive capabilities in the Arctic region, and encourage the development of critical Arctic infrastructure. The resolution claims that the United States is behind the rest of the world, including Arctic and non-Arctic nations as far as exploring mineral resources, conducting essential research in the Arctic, providing environmental protection in the Arctic, and propagating national security in the Arctic.
The Council approved unanimously an ordinance leasing 2.07 acres of municipal property on Newton Peak to Federal Aviation Administration for a whopping $125 per year for the 10-year term of the lease.
Introduced into first reading was an ordinance leasing additional property to the FAA, located at Nome Municipal Cemetery for a necessary public service. FAA will pay $1,806.39 per year to the City for the eight-year term of the lease. The 100-foot strip of land—78,137 sq. ft.—has an estimated property value of $8,595.
Introduced into first reading was an ordinance vacating a right-of-way at the west end of Tobuk Alley in favor of Kirk Reynolds and Bonnie Piscoya who own a historic cabin encroaching within the platted right of way that has never had the alley extended into it. The action would allow the couple’s four lots abutting the lot to be consolidated. If approved, Reynolds and Piscoya would pay $11,000 for the 2,000 sq. ft. of land. The measure requires 30 days’ public notice.
The Council approved a 5-1 a resolution asking the State of Alaska to consider raising the speed limit on Seppala Drive, Nome’s main road to Nome Airport. However, the route also takes commuters to Port of Nome, Nome Joint Utility System, Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., U.S. Post Office Annex, the Center Creek Road turnoff to Anvil Mountain Correctional Center and some other commercial endeavors that all add to traffic congestion. The current speed limit is 25 miles per hour. In raising the speed limit, the Council had in mind increasing the limit to 35 mph on the last mile of the road from the rise at the Nome Municipal Cemetery to the Nome Airport. He found himself driving 35 mph on the road, but then slowing down, Councilman Jerald Brown said. “It’s natural. It’s the speed the road is intended to be driven,” Brown said.
T’is not, according to Councilman Lew Tobin, who cast the lone “no” vote. Visibility at the left turn off Seppala Road to the Jaffet’s Way bridge to Port Road is not good; speeds higher than 25 mph could put drivers at risk, Tobin thought.
During Council comments, Councilman Stan Andersen voiced a wish that a couple of school personnel and a couple of Council members could sit down and sort out the school budget to minimize cuts.
“Getting rid of classroom aides and summer school, what’s the point?” he asked.