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Talkeetna Community Council meeting briefs

by Lorien Nettleton ~ November 6th, 2012

It was a full house at the Talketna Community council’s November meeting, which took place for more than two-and a half-hours on Monday night at the Talkeetna Elementary School. Newly elected council members RG Denny and Melis Coady were seated on the Council Board. A discussion about the Road Maintenance responsibility swap between the borough and the state took place. Based on a 2004 agreement, the state will assume responsibility for the maintenance of Seward Merridian Road, and in return the Borough will assume responsibility for a number of other area roads. Locally, the Talkeetna Road Service Area, or RSA, will be required to assume maintenance of Christiansen Lake Road, which is estimated to add an additional $8,000 annually to the RSA’s expenses. RSA representative John Strassenbourgh says this agreement means a higher burdern on the road service funds without a corresponding increase in the tax base, and places unfair financial burden on the area’s landowners. Assembly Representative Vern Halter was in attendance, as was the Borough Mayor, and both said they took the matter of the maintenance swap seriously. The Talkeetna Council agreed to send a strongly-worded letter to the Assembly regarding the matter, and asking the Borough and the State to revisit the negotiation to see if a more equitable arrangement could be made.

Jim Okonek addressed the Council on behalf of the Talkeetna Water and Sewer Board, asking the council to become more involved in Water and Sewer business planning. The Water and Sewer board are currently looking for sources of revenue, and investigating other strategies to make the utility solvent. The Water and Sewer board held weekly meetings through the summer to address the shortfall of operating expenses, and they had determined that fewer than 200 customers would not be able to pay for the service themselves. The Council agreed to participate in Water and Sewer meetings, and to help in negotiations with the Borough for assistance.

A Revenue Share Committee was formed at Monday’s meeting, with Charlie Loeb as the chair of the committee which will revue 11 proposed projects to improve and enhance the community. The Revenue Share committee hopes to meet before Thanksgiving to revue the proposals and could make their recommendations to the council by the December meeting.

Dan Harrell updated the Council on recent meetings of the Mat Su Parks, Recreation and Trails Advisory Board. The most recent meeting of the board was primarily focused on the issue of whether to create a motorized-use corridor in Hatcher Pass recreation area, which failed by one vote. Harrell also submitted a request that the Council support his bid for another term on the board.

For the Talkeetna Parks Advisory Committee, Howard Carbone asked the Council to approve a letter of recreational trails priorities to be presented to the Mat Su Trails Foundation, which will be holding a meeting On Saturday at the Sunshine Fire Hall. TPAc put together a preliminary list of trails in the area that might be considered for the Mat Su Trails plan, which could at some point qualify for improvement funding or protections as trails.

Robert Gerlach updated the Council on progress of the Flood Recovery and Mediation operations in the Borough. Gerlach has been in contact with the Borough’s Public Works department about the Dyke and Revitment in Talkeetna, which were damaged during September’s flooding. Gerlach says the Department may decide to survey people about steps that can be made to mitigate the severity of future flooding.

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