Council considers City ownership of White Alice site
No one needed to bring a sleeping bag to Nome Common Council’s regular meeting Feb. 22 as the brief agenda allowed council and audience to leave when some evening remained.
The short agenda contained no unfinished business, no ordinances up for second reading, public hearing and final passage, no lengthy list of communications to be rendered respectful lip service.
The council did introduce two action items into first reading, which according to Roberts Rules of Order, could not be discussed until second reading and public hearing pending final passage: an ordinance adopting the revised Port of Nome tariff for the upcoming shipping season and an ordinance authorizing City of Nome to purchase and lease real property from Sitnasuak Native Corp. by a property exchange agreement.
The tariff revision raises port rates by 10 percent across the board. Previous rate increases in the past several years have excluded fuel and cargo. The council will consider the tariff revisions for final adoption following second reading and public hearing at its next regular meeting.
The land exchange would allow the City to take ownership of the 11 acres at the top of Anvil Mountain that hold the remnants of the local White Alice site, a strategic piece of cold war communications. In return, Sitnasuak would receive the vacant lots in Block 63 at the corner of Warren Place and West C Street, across from CarQuest. Then the City would lease the land back from Sitnasuak.
During citizens’ comments, John Handeland rose to advocate saving the White Alice site as having “present, past and future importance to Nome.” He was glad to see White Alice on the agenda, he said, “an ordinance that may eventually put to rest the White Alice towers, an off-again-on-again issue for 20 years or more.
In past discussions, tower advocates have cited the monoliths as important landmarks for air, snow machine and vehicle travel.
The council asked for more information, maps and history of negotiations concerning the land swap. Handeland said he could oblige.
In response to a local newspaper editor’s thimble thumps to their heads concerning public notice for upcoming meetings, and at a suggestion of some members, the council will hold a work session to draw up a chart of ad sizes for specific recurring City notices. This would place the fiscal matter on the council table and alleviate the City’s staff concerning advertising policy, council members said.
In other business, councilman Stan Andersen suggested that the council and City honor the dedication of Nome Volunteer Ambulance Dept. with an appreciation dinner or another expression of gratitude for years of volunteer service. The social is already on the planning able, according to City Manager Thomas Moran.
Ambulance department revenue has fallen because the NVAD is no longer providing medevac services for the hospital. The City is subsidizing the department due to stalled negotiations with Norton Sound Regional Hospital in FY 16. Normally NVAD generated revenue for the City of Nome, City Manager Tom Moran told the council recently.
Moran reported that the new library in the Richard Foster Building could be open soon, certainly not later than March 10. During Iditarod next month, there will be book carts with museum exhibits on them in the Richard Foster Room.
Under communications, the council received a copy of a letter written jointly by Beneville and BSNC President & CEO Gail Shubert, to Gov. Bill Walker, urging Walker’s continued support for expansion at Port of Nome, alongside establishment of infrastructure at Port Clarence to meet the need of accelerated growth of arctic maritime traffic. Nome is pushing for the governor’s budget to include $3.25 million for design work on lengthening the Port of Nome causeway and other navigational improvements.
Beneville, during his mayor’s comments, reappointed Sara Lizak to the Nome Planning Commission for another term. Thomas Okleasik also applied for the seat. Councilmembers praised Okleasik’s qualifications also and vowed to retain his application for consideration when another vacancy develops on one of the City’s advisory bodies.
Councilmembers Louis Green Sr., Matt Culley, Tom Sparks and Stan Andersen attended the meeting; Councilman Jerald Brown attended by telephone. Councilman Lew Tobin was on vacation and excused from attendance.