Local News

Assembly says “no” to energy committee, one-way street

The regular meeting of the borough assembly was Tuesday. KSTK’s Shady Grove Oliver has this overview.

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The assembly voted unanimously to approve the Southeast Alaska Power Agency’s use of 66 City and Borough power poles at no cost.

City Hall - Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK

City Hall – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK

In other power business, the discussion on sending a letter to the Thomas Bay Power Commission regarding the future funding of TBPA non-net billable costs was postponed until the next meeting. This agenda item was likewise tabled at the last meeting.

The assembly did discuss whether or not to form a permanent energy committee.

Assembly member James Stough said he wants to see the community participate in keeping tabs on Wrangell’s energy.

“If you have a permanent energy committee then you have the ability to bring forward any of those concerns you have and be able to work on them and bring them forward to the council. That was my opinion, anyway,” said Stough.

But there are concerns about redundancy. Assembly member Daniel Blake said he’s not sure another energy committee is necessary.

“The discussion I have with it is that at this time, under the Power Sales Agreement, we’re obligated to buy one hundred percent of our power from SEAPA. So, I don’t really see a need for another energy committee because there’s nothing really for them to do at this moment. Any ideas that they would come up with or any alternative sources, we couldn’t use because we’re obligated to purchase that power from SEAPA anyway. That’s just my thoughts on it,” said Blake.

Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch outlined other options for the energy committee, including looking at where and how power is distributed in town.

But, he said, there may be people who are directly affected that could raise those questions. Someone in Municipal Light and Power, for example, may have a better hold on the specifics.

Blake said he supports community involvement.

“If those are the types of things that they’re working on, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. My concern is I wouldn’t want another committee trying to circumvent or derail what we’re already trying to do with SEAPA in allowing them to take over operations at the plant. That was my main concern,” said Blake.

Stough said he’d still be in favor of a permanent committee.

“My main concern is having a voice out there to see what our needs are and how they can be met,” said Stough.

The motion to create the energy committee failed three to two with Stough and Wilma Stokes for and Blake, Pam McCloskey, and Dave Jack against.

Before the assembly meeting began, there was a public hearing on whether or not to make Brueger Street a one-way street with parking on both sides and traffic traveling in a Westerly direction.

Assembly member Blake said although it would be a big change, it would increase parking.

“My thought on it is that I would love to see it remain a two-way street, but the concerns that were brought up during the workshop about eliminating that much parking when we’ve already got overcrowded lots—especially the one there next to First Bank behind AICS—I just can’t see us eliminating that many parking spots to keep it two ways. Also, there’s the concern if we do eliminate additional parking with Bob’s—people going in there and parking and then walking off to do business someplace else—that’s not fair to Bob’s [IGA] at all. So, the only other option that I see is to go ahead and make it a one-way street,” said Blake.

The motion failed by another three-to-two vote with McCloskey and Blake in favor and Stough, Stokes, and Jack against.

There was no executive session at the meeting.

CORRECTION: Cindy Martin was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Board, not Cindy Wharton. We apologize for the error.

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