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April Talkeetna Community Council Notes

by Phillip Manning ~ April 8th, 2014

On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting.  Topics of discussion included the Talkeetna Village Park, the state legislature, and FEMA.

Howard Carbone, Chair of the Talkeetna Parks Advisory Committee, shared the results of last week’s public meeting to discuss upgrades to the Talkeetna Village Park on Main Street.  Changes are planned for both the lawn and the new pavilion.  Last year, issues arose when bands attempted to perform in rainy weather in the pavilion.  A roof without an overhang and a concave floor combined to create a potentially dangerous situation for musicians playing electric instruments when it rained.  Proposed changes include extending the roof and pad of the pavilion eight feet, adding a low-level deck, and creating better drainage.  Also, plans were discussed for seeding grass in the park.  The Parks Committee, and ultimately the Council, voted to support a plan that would involve hydroseeding this fall and closure of the park from September through next May to allow the grass to grow.

On the topic of the state legislature, the capital budget was discussed, as well as the committee death of House Bill 77.  That bill would have streamlined the Department of Natural Resources’ permitting process, but critics said some of the provisions amounted to removing public process from decisions on public lands.  Also, the removal of Governor Sean Parnell’s $32.7 million budget supplement for the Susitna-Watana Project was discussed.  Mat-Su Assembly Member Vern Halter was in attendance at the meeting, and was in Juneau last week.  He says that he believes the legislature made a good decision in letting HB77 die, and voiced his strong opposition to Susitna-Watana, saying he is “one-hundred percent” against the energy megaproject.

The Council board also discussed the status of FEMA funding for repair of the Talkeetna River dike and other areas that were damaged by the fall 2012 floods.  While FEMA has approved the Borough’s appeal to fund repair of the dike, there are still hurdles to be cleared, including having the Army Corps of Engineers visit the dike during a period of low water in order to help assess damage.  There are still not solid numbers available for the total FEMA relief package.  $2.5 million has already been given to the Borough by the state legislature, but much of that will be used in the Matanuska Valley.  Assembly Member Vern Halter says a “gentleman’s agreement” exists to allow $500,000 to be used in the Susitna Valley.  He also expressed some concern that while money has come to the Borough, a number of factors has prevented it from being used thus far.

The single action item voted on by the Council was to write letters in support of the Talkeetna Parks Advisory Committee’s positions on the Talkeetna Village Park, Talkeetna Lakes Park, and an issue regarding gravel being dumped on a trail near Beaver Road.  The next meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors will be May 5th.

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