Cell Tower, Old Lake Road discussed at Council Meeting

The Talkeetna Community Council Met on Monday night in the Talkeetna Elementary Library. The meeting covered a lot of ground in the two-and-a-half hour session. Here are some highlights:

The council elected its officers, with Sharon Montagnino retaining her position as President, Mary Farina will continue as vice president, Cary Birdsall will serve one more term as Secretary, and Robert Gerlach will take over as Treasurer. Newly elected board member Ed Kraver was happy to be seated at the council, and won’t serve immediately as an officer.

John Strassenburgh updated the council on the AT&T cell tower proposed near the corner of Lichtenwalner and the Spur road. The Mat Su Borough Assembly has recently repealed existing code governing towers, which means the only restrictions on towers in the borough will now be defined by the Special Use Districts, or SpUDs adopted by communities. The Proposed tower is on the Borough Planning Commissions calendar for December 5th. If approved, cell phone utility will have official permitting necessary to proceed with the tower. An attendee at the meeting mentioned seeing the area cleared for the tower, with survey stakes and cables already in place.

Strassenburgh also gave an update on the status of a Community Improvement Project grant to be funded by the borough to help cover the costs for road maintenance. If the grant is approved, the mobile rock-crushing equipment that pulls material out of roadside ditches, crushes it on-site, and uses that material to resurface roads will be partly funded for some roads in the council area.

The Talkeetna Community Council passed a resolution to distribute a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Alaska Energy Authority stating for the public record that the voters of Talkeetna cast an advisory ballots in the October 4th election opposing the construction of the Susitna Watana dam by a vote of 109 to 19.

Brian Okonek notified the Council that someone has been trimming back the willows and alders at the riverfront park off of main street. He said that the vegetation provides a barrier between the bustle of main street and the scenic panorama of rivers and mountains, and the experience might be diminished if the vegetation is cut further back. The council agreed to look in to the ownership of the property described, and try to determine who was doing the cutting, and why.

Jerry Sousa has asked the Council to address the issue of the Old Lake Road, which he says is experiencing user conflicts. Sousa says that regular use of the route by fast-moving vehicles was creating a high likelihood of conflicts and potential injuries to other user groups, including mushers, bikers, hikers and skiers. Sousa pointed out a 2008 plan for the road that called for gates or other obstructions from both ends that would limit vehicle traffic, but that would make keys to the gates available to emergency services and land owners who use the road. Sousa asked that the Council urge the Mat Su Borough to follow up on this plan. The Council agreed to look into it, but since the road serves as a trail, as a state right-of-way, as access to private property for land-owners and as emergency access, the issue is of significant interest to the community. There are no easy answers to the question of Old Lake Road, and it will be discussed again at the next Council Meeting.

For its final act of business on Monday night, the Council passed a resolution agreeing to write a letter in support of the Northern Susitna Institute’s mission. NSI says having such a letter showing they have the support of the community will be useful when approaching grant-making entities for funding.

Those are just some of the highlights from the Talkeetna Community Council meeting. The council meets the First Monday of every month at the Talkeetna Elementary. More information about last night’s meeting is available on their website,


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