Borough Assembly Meets In Homer

Shaylon Cochran


     A relatively short agenda allowed the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly time to hear presentations and testimony from Southern Peninsula residents ranging from studies in Cook Inlet being performed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to hospital reports.
     As the meeting took place on the Southern Peninsula, presentations to the Assembly centered on issues from that area, including one by Dave Brann, who was advocating on behalf of the Kachemak Bay Water Trail Steering Committee. That group has proposed a 125-mile system of water trails; what Brann refers to as a B-H-A-G.  Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
     “(The trail) inspires exploration, understanding, and stewardship of the natural treasure that is Kachemak Bay,” Brann told the Assembly, adding that education is a part of the larger goal, with an emphasis on safety.  The tentative completion date in the plan shown to the Assembly is Summer, 2014.
     The Assembly also heard a brief presentation on two current research projects in Cook Inlet from Kris Holderied of NOAA’s Kasitsna Bay Labratory, a tidal energy assessment and an ecosystem monitoring program.
     The tidal energy assessment will use date gathered from ten current meters that were deployed this summer and will be available online in a few weeks.
     The monitoring program is a five year, $12 million project funded by the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, called Gulf Watch Alaska, funded by the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.
     “This is really a chance to pull together a lot of information that the state, federal and local resource managers and the public need to…sustainably manage the resources in this region,” Holderied said.  That program will monitor individual species and the broader systems around Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and the central Gulf of Alaska Coast.
     The Assembly also heard concerns about the most recent addition to the Homer Harbor; Buccaneer Energy’s jack-up rig ‘Endeavour’.  Roberta Highland of the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society expressed frustration in attempting to communicate with the company.
     “Buccaneer does not appear to be completely prepared for Homer’s weather and tides” Highland said.  ”(They) have stonewalled all of my phone calls and now I find that today, the people whom I’ve been trying to contact since September 5th were all at Land’s End,” she said.
     That’s exactly the kind of behavior that makes conservationists worried and unhappy, Highland said.
     The Assembly did move on to pass a few ordinances, including a supplemental appropriation of $75,000 for trail expansion in the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area and another appropriating $776,228 from the Central Peninsula Hospital Plant Replacement and Expansion fund for remodeling the Obstetrics area and relocating therapy facilities at CPH.