On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council held its June meeting. Topics on the agenda included a presentation from the Alaska LNG Project as well as communication with the Alaska Railroad, Talkeetna Sewer and Water, and the unexpected volume of visitors on Memorial Day weekend.
The discussion with the Alaska LNG Project, which currently represents the three major oil and gas producers, Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, and BP, was an abbreviated version of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday. Since the project is still in a very early phase, many questions cannot be answered, yet. Some facts that did emerge are that the producers and the state are committed to building at least five points along the pipeline where Alaskans could use a portion of the North Slope gas for heating or power. Additionally, there is currently a ten or eleven year timeline for the pipeline to be operational under the current plan. If the preliminary route plans hold up, there is a good chance that the pipeline will pass through at least part of the Upper Valley.
After the pipeline Q-and-A, John Strasenburgh gave an update on the Talkeetna Road Service area. In addition to normal early summer activities like spreading calcium chloride, Strasenburgh says that money has started to come in from FEMA to repair damage from the 2012 fall flood. So far, $130,000 for repairs on Beaver Road has been received, with more money still to come for various other roads. In addition, work has begun on the approach to the Yoder Road bridge, and is anticipated to continue in the coming weeks.
Last month, the council discussed the spraying of herbicides near residences and other public use areas by the Alaska Railroad. TCC Chair Whitney Wolff says that she has been in communication with the railroad, and that the current plan is to avoid spraying near the mile markers that were excluded last year at the request of landowners along the tracks.
Finally, the Memorial Day weekend crowds were discussed. While Memorial Day is always a busy time, this year saw even more visitors than usual, many of whom came from Anchorage and other areas within Alaska to escape the smoke from the Funny River fire on the Kenai Peninsula. This resulted in increased off-road vehicle traffic, crowding, and camping in undesignated areas. In addition, the outside drop box at the Talkeetna Post Office was vandalized when someone dropped a firecracker into it, starting a small fire. The council voted to contact the Alaska State Troopers, the Mat-Su Borough, and the Alaska Railroad to discuss potential plans for future holiday weekends.
The next regular meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council board will be Monday, July 7th.