City clerk swears in council members (from left to right) Laura Arboleda, Gabriel Saravia, and Richard Walker. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
At its regular meeting last Thursday night, the Kodiak City Council welcomed three council members and said goodbye to one. It also made several moves forward on property within the city limits when it authorized the planning of a pedestrian pathway and forwarded a possible city code amendment to its second reading.
During her staff report on the code amendment, City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski explained that the ordinance would propose to remove the sections that restrict the placement of mobile homes to mobile home parks within the city limits.
“The city doesn’t have the planning authority, the land use authority and, as the borough has gone its process of making amendments, this came to light, that we had to make this change in order to be consistent with the borough codes. We are obligated to make that change to make sure that we’re consistent with the borough and their planning authority.”
According to the meeting packet, limiting placement of mobile homes is not within the city’s power and keeping the code could lead to legal action against the city. Kniaziowski said there are concerns about unintended consequences to amending the code and they’ll need to see what those are as they go through the process.
The city council also authorized a contract with DOWL to create a concept plan for a pedestrian pathway between Pier II and Near Island. Kniaziowski said that, in 2012, the city received a $384,000 grant from state cruise ship excise tax funds for a mile-long path that would run parallel to the road system. However, the council decided the project was too costly in the long-run. It now needs to re-dedicate that money or else lose it, and the contract authorization would put that grant towards the planning of a pedestrian pathway.
“It would authorize a contract with DOWL for $333,376. And then once this is approved, I’ll notify the state, the funds will become encumbered in the city system, and we’ll be able to clearly begin using those funds not in a rushed way, but in a reasonable fashion.”
The decision on how the city will use the difference of about $50,600 dollars between the grant and the budgeted contract amount is still to be decided, if that money will be used at all. After Kniaziowski’s explanation of the contract, Councilman Terry Haines took the opportunity to credit the council and city staff for its work on the grant.
“This money was put into place for what looked like a pretty good project. We soon found that it was unworkable and, rather than let this money just flow through our fingers, we managed to redirect it. ‘Cause it had such specific purposes that it could only be used for certain kinds of planning and had to be something that also benefited cruise ship tourists, and it really took a lot of work on behalf of our city staff and people at the state level too.”
Haines said he thinks, in the end, they’ll have some useful plans that will make the project “shovel-ready” if and when funds arrive. He also said his goodbyes towards the end of the meeting. Due to the claims on his time as a fisherman, he is no longer able to serve as a councilman. In his final statement, thanked his fellow council members.
“We don’t always agree and I think it’s a bad thing if you do. Everyone here brings something different to the table and I think that’s one of the things that makes a really good representative body, and at the end, we can all have a robust conversation, but I think there’s one thing that’s always been the same about everyone I’ve ever served with here on the city council and that’s that the business of the people has always come first.”
New council member Laura Arboleda will fill the two-year seat Haines vacated.
At the regular meeting, the city clerk officiated the oath of office for Arboleda as well as councilmen Gabriel Saravia and Richard Walker for two three-year-terms and Mayor Pat Branson for a two-year-term.
The next Kodiak City Council work session is scheduled for November 10 and its next regular meeting for November 12.