KIB Assembly Moves to Support Negotiations on Termination Point Easement

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has decided to support negotiations between the borough and Lesnoi Native Corporation to develop the terms of a conservation easement to Termination Point.
    
The public has been especially vocal about the resolution, which would open a dialogue to protecting a popular wilderness area near town.  Not only did members of the community fill the room at last week’s work session – where the majority spoke in favor of the easement – but some also came to give public comment at last night’s meeting. When it came to discussing the resolution, Mayor Jerrol Friend expressed an interest in continuing the borough’s involvement in the talks about the land.

“We need a seat at that table because I still have a concern that we need to be sure that in this easement, we have access to access those lands north of this towards Ouzinkie and be able to put a road in there. If it’s a conservation easement, we want to have the ability to put a road in there so that we can access those other properties. If we don’t have a seat at these negotiations, that kind of stuff could go away.”

Assemblyman Dennis Symmons said he would not be supporting the resolution.

“I am not against what people want so whole-heartedly, but I do feel, and if there was a softer word than extortion, to make it our local government the one that has to respond to every citizen’s concerns, to make us look like the bad guy that’s gonna decide whether it gets clear cut or not or to make us look like it’s up to us what a private company does with their land. Not fair. Not fair.”

He said he hopes more questions get answered.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner had also pointed out the many unknowns surrounding the conservation easement and its details, like cost. She said the resolution carries a lot of weight.

“I think if we pass this, and the reason there’s currently so much advocacy for us to pass this resolution is that it signals the EVOs council that the borough is likely to accept the conservation easement, and it ties up the available funds. At this point I’m uncomfortable making that decision without actually evaluating and discussing the options and ramifications of the decision.”

Assemblyman Aaron Griffin echoed Mayor Friend’s concerns. He said if the assembly voted no on the resolution, it would end the borough’s influence at Termination Point.

“It will go to someone else and either, one, it will be developed in a way that we have zero say over, or two, it will go into a quasi public-private state with whatever nonprofit it is and, again, we’ll have zero say over how that land is managed.”

The assembly voted to support the negotiations, with the motion passing 4 to 2 with Symmons and Skinner against. The next work session is scheduled for October 29 and the next regular meeting for November 5.

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