The Reliance Harbor float and icy water, 2021.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

After committing more than $2 million towards developing a new subdivision about five miles out the road, Alder Top Village (Keishangita.’aan), Wrangell’s assembly is set to approve an engineering design contract with a Ketchikan-based firm at its regular meeting January 24. The $109,000 contract with R&M Engineering includes funds for a monitoring plan, required by the state Office of Historic Preservation since the site was formerly a Bureau of Indian Education boarding school

While the borough is still in the process of trying to decide what to do with most of the 42-acre old mill site at 6-Mile Zimovia Highway, the assembly could authorize the borough manager to negotiate a series of short-term leases with Channel Construction for a 2-acre portion of the site. Channel Construction has been operating a scrap metal recycling project at the former mill for a year.

Moving forward with other infrastructure priorities, the borough intends to apply for a $25 million federal grant that would help upgrade floats in Reliance and Inner Harbor near downtown. The borough would be on the hook for any project costs over the granted $25 million, which requires the borough to approve the potential spending – although borough officials say they’d try to change the scope of the project rather than exceed $25 million. 

Wrangell’s public pool has been closed since early December to repair leaks in the bottom of the basin, but it’s stayed closed longer than anticipated because the project hasn’t secured a contractor. The borough assembly will discuss approving an additional $30,000 toward the swimming pool repair in the hopes of finding a contractor to complete the work. 

The borough assembly will consider the sale of a tidelands lot that isn’t actually tidelands – it’s where the Arctic Chiropractic building sits across from City Hall. If initially approved, they’ll hold a public hearing on the sale later this spring.

The assembly is also set to discuss changes to borough code that would allow the borough administration more leeway to make purchases by increasing the limit for when a purchase needs borough assembly approval. The borough manager would be able to authorize purchases of up to $50,000 – double his current authorization – and a number of other spending limits in the code would also double. 

Other agenda items include addressing property tax foreclosures from the previous year and a resolution and public hearing on moving the Nolan Center and Wrangell Museum rates and fees to the borough’s fee and rate schedule. Previously, fees were a part of borough code. The move also includes a $1 increase to museum entrance fees across the board. 

Before the regular meeting at 7 p.m., the assembly is scheduled at 6 p.m. to discuss options for the Public Safety Building and vacant former Wrangell Medical Center. Borough voters rejected a bond that would have kick-started structural repairs to the Public Safety Building last October, leaving the local government to come up with the millions of dollars for repairs another way. 

The old hospital has been sitting vacant since SEARHC vacated the building after the new Wrangell Medical Center was completed. The borough has been looking for a buyer since last spring, to no avail, although two local businessmen have recently floated the idea of turning the old hospital into a senior center and given presentations to the Planning & Zoning and Economic Development committees. 

View the full agenda packet for the meeting here.

KSTK will air the regular meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday (January 24) on 101.7 FM and online at Anyone wishing to speak at the meeting can sign up on the “Persons to be Heard” sheet located at City Hall just prior to the meeting.

Get in touch with KSTK at or (907) 874-2345.