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Nome Council in Agreement: NSHC and Community Will Benefit From Vacated Property

City Council members gather around the table during a work session followed by regular meeting. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2017)

Multiple blocks of property owned by the City of Nome will be vacated for Norton Sound Health Corporation to construct new facilities, providing more mental and physical health services to the community. That ordinance and all other items on the agenda were passed by the City Council during their regular meeting Monday night.

Through the passage of an ordinance, NSHC will have use of land on East L Street and East M Street, as well as between East 6th and Greg Kruschek Avenue. City Manager Tom Moran explains these properties won’t go out for bid, but the City is negotiating some form of payment with NSHC:

“The City Council finds that the importance outweighs needing to receive cash and compensation, but the hospital has been in negotiations with us about more than a de minimis fee that will not be assessed value. Councilman Anderson brought up that he would like to see a Connex for storage at the cemetery, and they have one that they’re willing to donate. Long story short is that there might be a small amount of cash and a couple pieces of equipment they’d be willing to give us in exchange for the vacation of these.”

New business on the agenda included an ordinance to reduce the fee for surrendering an animal to the City. Moran says this change is meant to reflect a more realistic cost for providing animal care at the shelter:

“Essentially, the Animal Control Officer (Dawn Ubelaker) came in and said that she knows of at least two instances where somebody wanted to get rid of an animal but couldn’t afford the fee or didn’t want to pay the fee, so they just let them run unattended and then didn’t claim them. Long story short is $150: we kind of sat down and thought about it. So how much of her contract time plus food would it take to keep this animal for the amount of time that we keep them? And we thought, $40.”

That piece of business passed on to second reading along with an ordinance authorizing the City to purchase Lot 2 of the Tundra Lakes Subdivision, from Arctic Gold Mining, for the price of $10,000.

The Council agreed to continue contracting with Eileen Bechtol and Wendy Chamberlain for their separate services. Bechtol, of Bechtol Planning and Development, has been working as the city contract planner since 2001. Chamberlain has benefited the City from afar since 2008, as she is a state lobbyist in Juneau.

Moran and Mayor Richard Beneville agreed Chamberlain is the best in the business.

“Mr. Mayor,” Moran said, “I would like to, I think you will endorse me on this position statement, that we have the best lobbyist in the State of Alaska, and she’s worth every penny.”

“Absolutely,” said Beneville.

One of the last resolutions passed by the Council was to award the Port’s security camera project to Arctic Fire and Security. Port Director Joy Baker explains how much almost $191,000 is worth:

“They’re providing the cameras, the software, the servers, the work stations, and then, they also do the installation. They tune up, make sure everything’s up, got all the views live, and then, they do the staff training, the operation. They check the storage, make sure everything is working and talking.”

According to Baker, the cameras will be located throughout the Port at the small boat harbor, the causeway, the storage pad, and she will be able to monitor all of them from her office.

Before adjourning the regular meeting, Mayor Beneville recommended John Handeland fill a vacant seat on the Museum and Library commission, as Handeland was the only one to apply. The Council appointed Handeland unanimously.

On July 10th, the City Council will convene again for its next regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.