Jeff Stewart

This past Thursday’s borough meeting was both pleasant and productive.

A committee report by Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center noted they completed their JCAHO (national hospital accreditation agency) evaluation and received both the highest rating and for the longest period before they must again be evaluated. Also, Medicare/Medicaid evaluated them and they came out with no discrepancies. Bottom line: Kodiak has one of the best-run hospitals in the country (along with having some of the nicest staff). A tip of the hat to the borough and Providence for their excellent teamwork.

Next major item for discussion was a clarification of the Oct. 4 ballot measure to ask citizens, “Should the Kodiak Island Borough pursue the idea of …” consolidating the city and borough governments? Specifically, what does this mean? Is this study to be conducted by borough staff and are they competent to undertake such an effort? Or does the borough propose to farm out this study to an outside organization? How much does the borough propose to spend on this feasibility study? 

As to specifically what was meant by this ballot question, the assembly went around the table, each assembly member voicing his/her understanding of what was being proposed. There were a lot of “it doesn’t mean this” observations, but also there were some “but to me it does mean this” observations. In the end, the still unanswered question remains, if the electorate votes in favor of this measure and the subsequent feasibility study indicates to the assembly that consolidation is feasible, then what? Does the borough then begin consolidation efforts? If this is so, then a yea vote on the ballot is equivalent to directing the borough to go forward with consolidation so long as their initial feasibility study is encouraging.

Further down the agenda, the question of ordering trees for the Chiniak reforestation was considered. Following several calls from Chiniak residents, it appears that a purchase order for 300,000 saplings (implying full reforestation) will go through at the next regular meeting (Aug. 18) for a spring 2017 planting. At this time logging will have just been completed and the ground scarified, creating ideal planting and survival conditions.

The most discussed issue of the night was the Otmeloi Way road construction project, as reported in the Aug. 8 Daily Mirror. The project began 21 years ago with the intent to provide a 0.4-mile pathway w/street lighting so school children could safely walk to school along Otmeloi Way. Today, the project has grown to a $3 million to $4 million for levelling, flattening and straightening all 0.8 miles of Otmeloi Way (from Rezanof Drive to Monashka Bay Road), paving it with four inches of asphalt, installing a sidewalk, gutters, curb boxes, culverts, signage, lane striping, and providing high-density street lighting — all for a rural access road.

There are several significant issues with this project, the salient one being that on completion of this project, maintenance and snow plowing costs will shift from the state to members of Service Area No. 1 — who are relatively few in number and most of whom receive no direct benefit from this project. Note also that this road will likely need to be resurfaced within the next 20 years at a cost of over $1 million, which is considered a maintenance cost.

So, as a resident of Service Area 1, I would not vote yes on this ballot measure until I first understood what maintenance and snow plowing costs were projected to be and how this would increase the mil rate that I pay. And I would like to see these costs listed on a spreadsheet, not just something somebody said in a meeting.

All of which, of course, is just my opinion.

Jeff Stewart is a retired project manager and former member of the KIBSD Board of Education.

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