Nome Common Council threatens to demolish Nome Front Street bar
The Nome Common Council, following up on what Councilman Stan Andersen says is a mandate from citizens to put a stop to hazardous eyesores, has drawn up an abatement list of 20 or so ramshackle addresses.
The council sent owners of the Anchor Tavern a registered letter giving owners a 30-day deadine to repair the building or have it “abated.” In the past, abatement has meant bulldozer style demolition. The council sent owners of record for four other properties the same offer.
However, they gave the bar a six-month reprieve based on owner Mark Sackett’s vow to get onto the project in a week when he finished transforming another Sackett property, Mark’s Soap and Suds, into a facility to sell Mexican food.
Sacket will have to make repairs to satisfy the city’s administration as well as a write-up from the state Fire Marshall’s office. Sackett’s building permit for the Anchor Tavern had expired. The deadline for repairing the bar falls in December at the end of a renewed building permit.
The departure of gold miners from town had affected his laundry business and finances at Soap and Suds. He could work on only one property at a time, Sackett told the council. He had to get the Mexican food going to provide money for repairing the bar, he said.
The council had city administration send letters to notify owners of record to come to the public hearing Monday night. Only Sackett showed up to ask for more time to comply with orders to clean up and fix up.
The four other buildings that rose to the top of the list are 103 E. King Place (Gilbert Pelowook, deceased), 209 E. 4th Ave. (Edith Olanna), 509 Cranberry Way (Betty Bell), and 104 W. 4th Ave. (Jim West Jr., trustee for the estate of Jim West Sr.).
At the regular meeting following the work session, the council unanimously affirmed intentions to take action on the four properties if they did not see progress on repairs. Councilman Tom Sparks stressed that owners needed to be told in detail what they needed to do to get property off the abatement list.
The council has power to enforce remediation, removal or demolition orders under a public nuisance law against buildings deemed to be fire or health hazards or public nuisances but not absolute power. The process may be appealed during the public hearing phase and later during the prescribed steps in the ordinance.
Dave Csiki’s building at 507 E. 1st Ave. had been on a list for abatement at the last council meeting, but the council took it off when Csiki explained that he had a building permit with repair materials on the way into town. He was making the building into storage facility he said.
Councilman Stan Andersen, during a break between the work session and the council meeting walked to the back row of chairs in council chambers and addressed Dave Csiki in audible tones.
“If you keep hanging around here, I’m going to put you back on the abatement list,” Andersen was heard telling Csiki. Csiki did not respond, and had not spoken during the work session.
The council meeting featured another Front Street address maybe not headed for business success, when the council proposed to nip in the bud marijuana retail and agriculture operation planned for the Anchor Liquor Store property. According to the application sent from the state to City of Nome for review, Tundra Fire LLC proposed to grow crop in the basement and sell product at the street level. However, the address at 229 Front Street does not have sufficient distance -500 feet - from the front door to Checkpoint Youth Center at the old Arctic Trading Post site to satisfy the law. The tape measures 466 feet, 9 inches using right angles and only 375 feet by way of the crow. The measure to the side door is 544 feet, but the state rule is that the front door on the street is the front door in the law on distance, according to Tom Moran, city manager. The city has 60 days in which to protest.
The council, local regulatory body on weed, voted unanimously to protest the commercial permit application to the state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. Tundra Fire LLC is owned by Jim Fejes of Anchorage. Anchor Liquor Store site is owned by Woody Sackett, according to city property records.
In another hit on Front Street businesses, the council has instructed the administration to have the city’s attorney draw up a measure for a vote to outlaw sales of liquor in amounts less than 750 ml (a “fifth”) from 3rd or 4th Avenue to the seawall, with a hope to decrease public drunkenness. Tim Brown, manager of Nome Liquor Store owned by Alaska Commercial, took the podium to tell council members that the store did more business on the 750 ml bottles.
“I don’t feel the issue is small bottles. The issue is alcohol,” Brown said, adding that those who hang out on Front Street were pooling money for larger bottles, no pints.
“Then [the proposed law] won’t affect you,” Councilman Lew Tobin piped up.
The law would not affect the liquor store at Alaska Commercial store at Center Creek Road and Nome—Teller Highway.
“I can attest that if you walk that far with a buzz, you’ll lose it,” Councilman Matt Culley said. He supported the law limiting small quantity alcohol sales in town.
On another issue, Culley suggested that since the council had gained $1.5 million from selling a city-owned building on East Sixth to Kawerak, Inc, proprietors of child care and early education programs, the money could be directed to a hockey rink near the Rec Center.
“We have funds, we have the ground. Let’s stop kicking the ball around and move forward,” he said.
What was he talking about in expense, Councilman Louis Green Sr. wanted to know. Culley sketched in his idea of a covered asphalt floor, a foundation, a snow fence, the idea being that the rink could hold multiple activities during all seasons, penciling down the expense. It would be good to have a site for many activities, Councilman Tom Sparks agreed.
Not so Andersen. The hockey idea would compete with fixing buildings, increased costs of retirement accounts for City employees and the like.
“Sounds like a campaign promise,” Andersen said. Culley’s and Jerald Brown’s seats come up at the next municipal election, along with those of Fred Moody and Berda Willson on the Utility Board and Barb Amarok’s on Nome School Board.
In other business the council approved Marie Katcheak’s application for a vacant seat on the Nome Museum and Library Commission.
Before appointments were made, chairs of committees should be consulted whether a person was one they could work with, Andersen grumbled. Not appropriate, Culley responded. Maybe the chair knows someone they want on the commission, Andersen continued. Laughter in the audience and laughter up front ensued.
She had years of interest in both Nome’s and Anchorage’s library, Katcheak said in her application.
In final comments Mayor Richard Beneville thanked all those who had helped make the luxury liner Crystal Serenity’s Nome port of call a success Sunday, Aug. 21.
“They got off the ship smiling and they went back on the ship smiling, in the rain,” Beneville said. “They were thrilled by what they saw. If that had not gone well, you would not see cruise lines knocking at our door,” he said.