Dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was among the city of Kodiak’s main concerns in 2020, and it’s an issue that will not magically disappear with the coming of the new year.
However, it’s just one among a wide range of issues that city councilors anticipate addressing during the next 12 months.
The city council will meet on Jan. 23 to officially establish its 2021 priorities, but some counselors are already thinking about which projects might make this year’s priority list.
Councilor Charlie Davidson said he sees establishing a new fire station as the city’s most “critical” concern this year.
The current fire station is located in the tsunami inundation zone, and officials said the building poses a significant risk of failure if Kodiak were to suffer another earthquake.
Councilor John Whiddon said that given the current condition of the fire station, finding a new location and funding for the building is important. The city began the pre-design phase and the evaluation of different sites for the project in October with an Anchorage-based architecture firm.
Whiddon also said that assessing the condition of harbor infrastructure will be important this year, as well as prioritizing what improvements will need to be made.
According to the city’s list of capital improvements, many upgrades are needed, including repairs to the docks’ 50-year-old pilings.
Funding for these projects typically comes from the state and federal governments, but might be in short supply this year, Davidson said.
Both Whiddon and Davidson listed the Baranof Park improvement project as another potential focus for the city this year.
“There is a lot of push to improve Baranof Park’s hockey rink,” Whiddon said. “That’s being looked at, so I’m sure there will be ongoing conversations.”
The project is slated to cost $3.1 million and will include upgrading and enclosing the Baranof Park Ice Rink. The city recently received COVID-19 relief to fund part of the project.
The federal funding totaled $263,900 and will help pay for an indoor walking track, outdoor workout stations, community ice skates and helmets, and scoreboards and new safety glass for the ice rink. It will also pay for some staffing expenses.
Whiddon also noted concerns about COVID-19 and its impacts on the community as potential priorities for this year.
“I think there is a wide range of topics and issues that we will need to take a look at,” he said, adding that prioritizing will be “a balancing act” between dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on the local economy and assessing urgent infrastructure needs.