On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council Board of Directors held its annual meeting at the Talkeetna Elementary School library. The meeting began with the seating of two new Board members, Iris Vandenham and Katie Writer. After the new members were seated, outgoing Board Chair Cary Birdsall handed over his gavel, and a new slate of officers were chosen. Whitney Wolff was chosen as the new Chair, and Melis Coady was made Co-Chair. Mary Farina will serve as Secretary, and Robert Gerlach will continue his duties as Treasurer.
During the committee reports section of the meeting, John Strasenburgh spoke for the Talketna Road Service Area Board of Supervisors. He said that the RSA was moving funds from its reserve to cover improvement projects and any unforeseen budget overrun for the remainder of the fiscal year. He expressed concern that the RSA’s funding was being drastically cut, from more than $30,000 two years ago to $491 for the upcoming year. In addition, state funding that had normally been given to many road service areas in the state appears to have not been allocated for the next fiscal year, further tightening the budget.
Dan Harrell addressed the Board for the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and said that many communities were concerned over the price increase for the use of Borough parks. He said that the Advisory Board had drafted an alternative system to present to the Borough that would place parks in price tiers according to their usage and upkeep costs. The Talkeetna Community Council Board later voted to write a letter to the Borough expressing its concerns over the price increases.
Board Treasurer Robert Gerlach gave a report on a meeting he attended between members of the Chase community and the Department of Natural Resources concerning the submerged bulldozer that broke through the ice in May while on route from Gold Creek to Stephan (steh-PAN) Lake Lodge. He characterized the meeting as productive, but noted that there are still significant concerns regarding the overland permitting process and the bulldozer itself.
Robert Gerlach also addressed flood issues. He said that the Borough submitted an appeal to FEMA in April in order to secure funding to repair the dike that runs along the southern bank of the Talkeetna river, which was damaged during last year’s fall flood. He also said that the Borough’s appropriation of $2.5 million in flood relief was due on Monday, and word should come out soon on what will be done.
Finally, the Board heard from John Strasenburgh regarding an amendment to the SPUD. An ordinance was slated to go before the Borough Assembly on Tuesday to change the Spur Road South SPUD which contained outdated language. Strasenburgh said that the language in the Assembly packets did not match up with what was discussed with Borough staff. The ordinance, which will allow buildings over 6,000 square feet, such as the planned Talkeetna Library, to be built under Conditional Use Permits, was worded more broadly than the language that the Community Council and Borough Planning staff had approved. The broader language could allow “civic or community use” buildings to be constructed without the public process that a Conditional Use Permit entails. Due to the short timeframe before the Assembly meeting, the Council opted to send an email Monday night to the Borough clarifying that their desire was for the Assembly to adopt the more restrictive version of the ordinance.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 pm. The next meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council Board of Directors is scheduled for Monday, December 2nd.