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Talkeetna Community Council Meeting for 8/4/14

by Phillip Manning ~ August 5th, 2014

Monday’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors included discussion of the new library, flood issues, and Talkeetna’s sewer and water system.  The Council also covered planning for the upcoming election, which will seat as many as four new board members.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning was there, and has this report:

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Before the Council began conducting regular business, it heard from Ann Yadon with the Talkeetna Public Library.  She says that the Mat-Su Borough is planning an official groundbreaking ceremony for the new library, located on the Spur Road.  The ceremony is scheduled to take place on August 21st.  What is to become of the current library building has been a topic of conversation in Talkeetna.  Ann Yadon says that decision has not yet been made.

“There’s tons of rumors about what’s going to happen with the old building, and nothing’s been decided.  So, if you hear a rumor, it ain’t true.”

The Council received an update from the Road Service Area advisory board as well.  Along with progress on maintenance and replacement operations, the board reported that it has voted to contact the Alaska Railroad Corporation as well as Princess in order to seek funding to improve Woodpecker Rd.  The road is heavily used by buses taking passengers from the train to Princess lodges.  One idea under discussion is to replace the current gravel surface with recycled asphalt, which is intended to cut down on dust.

Under unfinished business, the Council discussed the flooding in the borough-owned area known as Government Lot 9.  The lot includes part of a trail as well as a bench, both of which are threatened by erosion.  The Council had previously contacted the borough on options to protect the land, to which the borough responded that any funding would likely come from the flood service area, and would otherwise be used to maintain the Talkeetna River revetment. Council Chair Whitney Wolff says that she would rather keep the focus on the larger issue.

“I’d say we just tell him to keep going, remind him that it’s all borough land, that we see it as…[a] different symptom of the same problem…Let’s just keep him on the dike.”

The rest of the Council agreed with Wolff.  The discussion also raised the issue of wider flood mitigation in Talkeetna.  Last month, Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook said that he had discovered that East Talkeetna is not included in the current flood service area.  He says that means the borough is unable to undertake any mitigation efforts in the area as of right now.  In order for that to change, Cook says that East Talkeetna would have to join the service area, which would mean an increase in property taxes.  On Monday the Talkeetna Community Council discussed the issue.  The Council decided to hold an advisory vote during the October election that will ask residents of East Talkeetna and the River Subdivision if they are interested in inclusion in the flood service area.  Currently, the area stops at the railroad tracks.

The Council also discussed the upcoming community meeting with CRW Engineering Group, the firm that produced an assessment of the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System.  In general, the Council expressed disappointment with the results of the $100,000 study.  Members took issue with a lack of alternative financial models in the draft, a component that the Council stressed earlier in the process.  One area where the Council saw a positive was in the documentation of the system’s operation.  Council member G. Denny says it is hard evidence of some of the system’s issues.

“I would like to say that I think the saving grace of this was they actually documented the failings of the borough….In the sewer side, they show the violations, they say there’s no denying that we had that short-circuiting of the lagoon system.  They did do some things that the borough can’t tell us over and over again, ‘No, we’re fine…’”

The meeting with CRW Engineering Group will be at the Talkeetna Fire Hall on Wednesday, August 6th at 6:00 pm.

Finally, the Council discussed the upcoming election.  Four seats are up for a vote this year.  G. Denny, Robert Gerlach, and Melis Coady all say that they will not be running for re-election.  Current Chair Whitney Wolff was undecided as of Monday.  The Council is actively soliciting potential members, and interested individuals can contact Mary Farina.

The next regular meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors was moved due to Labor Day and will be held at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, September 2nd at the Talkeetna Public Library.

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