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February Talkeetna Community Council Notes

by Phillip Manning ~ February 4th, 2014

On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting.  Agenda items included the Talkeetna riverfront, the recent DOT survey concerning road development on the western side of the Susitna, and the Alaska State Trooper post.  There were also several reports from standing committees.

During the audience participation portion of the meeting, the Council received updates from Sunshine Transit and the Talkeetna Library.  Kim Schlosser, the new director of Sunshine Transit, introduced herself and said that the first big project she plans to tackle in her new role is connecting the Willow and Talkeetna Transit routes to make it easier for Willow-based passengers to reach Talkeetna destinations other than the Clinic.  Librarian Ann Yadon said that the bid to construct the new Talkeetna Library and Community Center is open.  Bids are due on February 12th, and she says that it is possible that a contractor could be chosen by early March.

Committee reports included Robert Gerlach giving details of the progress of revenue sharing distribution, as well as looking toward building the committee for the next round of funds later this year.  Laura Wright spoke for the SPUD Awareness committee, saying that recent efforts included radio PSAs and getting a link added to the Chamber of Commerce website.   Whitney Wolff spoke on behalf of the Susitna Dam committee, and shared details of the recent extension of the Initial Study Report deadline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  She reiterated comments made to KTNA by saying that FERC’s decision to also extend the public review period made the process more equitable for stakeholders.  Dan Harrell gave an update from the Borough Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  He says that the Board and Borough staff are reconsidering fee changes for Borough parks after input from various communities.  Harrell says that the current plan under review would be to mirror the fee structure for Alaska’s state parks.

Mia Mangione updated the Council on the current status of Talkeetna EMS.  She says that changes to Borough policy regarding hours are making it difficult to ensure that responders are available all of the time.  She also clearly stated that the EMTs would not “let the community suffer” as a result of the cuts in hours.  She also said she planned to attend the Mat-Su Borough Assembly Meeting on Tuesday to address the Borough government.

On the New Business agenda, questions were raised regarding what the Council plans to do regarding the plan to turn a significant portion of Talkeetna’s riverfront to a Borough park.  Eric Phillips, Director of Community Development for the Borough, sent correspondence asking the Council Board if they would be willing to pursue the nearly ten year old plan, which would call for either the direct hire or concession to obtain a staff of at least one person to maintain and enforce regulations.  Some Board members, as well as members of the public, expressed concern that damage to the dike and revetment on the Talkeetna River mean that any park developed could be in serious danger of washing away.  The Board voted to write a letter which will emphasize that their current priorities are for flood control and safe access to the riverfront.

The Board also discussed the recent reconnaissance survey conducted by the state Department of Transportation regarding access to natural resources on the western side of the Susitna Valley.  While none of the proposed “Roads to Resources” plans pass through Talkeetna, the Board opted to write a letter citing financial concerns for the proposed routes, each of which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.  In addition, Council President Whitney Wolff cited a previous instance in which the Talkeetna Council wrote a letter sharing the concerns of the Trapper Creek Community Council, since one of the proposed routes would begin at the Petersville Road.

Finally, the status of the Alaska State Trooper post was addressed.  The Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce has been heading a campaign to obtain additional Trooper coverage.  Chamber President Beth Valentine has said in the past that current coverage is lacking, resulting in a less safe situation.  Due to a scheduling conflict, no Troopers were present at the Community Council meeting.  The Board decided to seek further information before acting.

The meeting adjourned just before 9:00 pm.  The next meeting of the Talkeetna Chamber Board will be on Monday, March 3rd.

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