KIB Assembly Talks Possible Seafood Research Center Closing and Capital Improvement Projects

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has been discussing priorities for the Kodiak Archipelago and will submit its final list to Governor Bill Walker and the State Legislative Delegation.
At the assembly’s regular meeting last night, the top four priorities out of the eight were: the construction of a Tustumena Replacement vessel, the extension of the Anton Larsen Bay Road to ice free waters, improvements on traffic flow at East Elementary, and improvements and paving to service area roads.     

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux suggested that drainage improvements to the Chiniak highway at Sargent Creek be moved up to the fourth position.

“To me, item seven is clearly a safety concern for residents in the Sargent Creek area. It’s their only access out of there and it becomes impassable. And the weather seems to be really erratic recently. Either really dry or really wet. If we have something funded, I would prefer it be a safety related need in our community other than Mill Bay beach access or road improvements in service district one.”

Assemblyman Mel Stephens disagreed. First, he said, because the assembly added that item as an afterthought at the last work session, and they should have been discussing it over time.

“I mean, I agree there’s a problem out there. It’s a very small amount, so I have no problem with it being here, but moving it to a higher priority is not something that I will go for, especially when the source for funds for these different things determines what gets funded.”

Stephens said he was unwilling to bump the improvement project over others on the list, like a replacement fire tanker for fire protection area number 1 or an upgrade to the access to Mill Bay Beach.

However, the motion to move the item did carry at 4 to 2 votes, with Stephens and Assemblyman Dan Rohrer against. At the end of discussion, the assembly adopted the priority list for the 2016 legislative session.

Later in the meeting, the Assembly passed a resolution to urge the University of Alaska to reconsider closing the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, which conducts seafood research. The assembly also issued an authorization for the mayor to sign a letter with the same goal.

While LeDoux drafted the letter on behalf of the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group, Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner stressed that the letter is from the entire community.

“When this issue was discussed at fishery work group, it was clear that everybody in the room supported doing something, and I think it wasn’t clear what would be the most effective way forward, and when the idea of sending a letter to the president of the university was suggested, I think everyone really seized on that as an appropriate next step that seemed feasible in short order.”

Mayor Jerrol Friend added that the letter would be CC’d to Governor Bill Walker, Senator Gary Stevens, and Representative Louise Stutes.

Correction 11/9/2015: A former version listed incorrect dates for the assembly’s next work session and regular meeting. The assembly will hold a work session followed by a special meeting on  November 12. It will also hold another work session on December 1 followed by a regular meeting December 3.

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