High storm winds shifted the pilings supporting the O’Connell Lightering Facility. The Sitka Assembly has approved city money to fix the pilings. (KCAW photo)

On Tuesday night (08-22-17), the Sitka Assembly approved – on first reading – $270,000 to fix damaged piling at the O’Connell Lightering Facility.

The dock was damaged when the winds kicked up during a storm. It’s no longer a safe place for large vessels over 40-feet in length to tie-up. With cruise ships tying up at Crescent Harbor or the Old Sitka Dock, the city transitioned the dock into a super-yacht facility last year. 

The Assembly also authorized the Harbor Department to conduct market research on raising moorage rates. Right now, the daily charge is $1000 dollars. Harbor Master Stan Eliason is confident that rates can be boosted.

I think we have real play here. I think we can get $2500 a night, plus. Easily. I think it will pay for itself. It’s probably one of the only things that does,” Eliason said. The project comes up for second and final reading at the Assembly’s September 12th meeting.

The Assembly also adjusted the budget to reflect cost overruns in solid waste, harbors, and information systems.

The cost of collecting Sitka’s solid waste was $700,000 more than the city anticipated for, due to a new and more expensive contract with Alaska Pacific Environmental Services that kicked in after the last year’s budget was passed. APES  takes care of all of Sitka’s garbage collection and disposal.

Jay Sweeney, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, tossed out some ideas for citizens can help lower shipping costs for garbage — through composting and recycling. “If you don’t throw the glass into the trash stream – instead take it to the drop-off recycling facility so it can be recycled here – that reduces that off-island shipping charge,” Sweeney said.

The Assembly also voted down, 3-2, appointing Owen Kindig to the Sitka Community Hospital Board out of concern he would have to repeatedly recuse himself, given that his wife – Beth Kindig – works at the hospital in medical records.

During persons to be heard, Kindig told the Assembly he wasn’t deterred in the least by their decision. “I am in favor of keeping the hospital local and I do think there is a strong preference in the community for that. I don’t think that should be viewed as a disqualification for service and I will be submitting my application again for consideration next month,” Kindig said.

The Assembly also discussed how the footprint of SECON Inc., a Sitka-based paving company, is beyond the boundaries of its lease agreement. The Assembly approved amending that lease to include the additional space.

SECON has been  tapped by Sitka Community Hospital to repave the clinic parking lot and pedestrian walkway, which is full of potholes. The Assembly approved that $60,000 budget appropriation from the hospital’s funds.

SECON has been doing work on Lincoln Street all week. Paving operations are now complete around Kasheveroff Street and on Hospital Drive. They will be begin pouring concrete on Hospital Drive today (08-25-17), which will close the entrance for Sitka Community Hospital until Monday morning (08-28-17). For more information, call the Public Works Department at 747-1804 or follow SECON on Facebook.