City Council initiates Seawall Improvement District
The Homer City Council continued meeting via Zoom video conference Monday night. It was a relatively short meeting, but the body got quite a bit accomplished.
After an update on the Covid-19 situation with the ferry Tustumena, which sailed into Homer during the council meeting, Councilmember Donna Aderhold asked the city’s Unified Command how it’s handling the reopening of city parks.
“We've received comments from members of the public that there is an event planned on a city park this weekend, that is being advertised as a COVID-free event. And that masks and physical distancing are not mandatory. And, this concerns me and it concerns other community members of people not really taking this seriously,” Aderhold said. “And so I'm wondering if there's if there's some messaging that the city could do with that particular event to encourage more care and concern regarding the spread of this virus.”
The event in question is an ice-cream social on Flag Day at Karen Hornaday Park to kick off the reelection campaign of Dist. 31 Rep. Sarah Vance.
The city’s Unified Command Public Information Officer, Jenny Carroll responded.
“As far as I know, all of our public spaces are open for people to use. And again, it comes down to the personal responsibility. But we can certainly try to reinforce. Rachel was making some softball signs, cause we got word that maybe some softball games would be picked up and started. I actually haven't seen it yet, but like, “Let's hit COVID out of the park.” And, you know, very specific to the audience,” Carroll said. “So we can try to develop some things like that to try to at least reach the interest of these people having these events.”
The council voted to accept and appropriate its first COVID-19 payment under the federal CARES Act in the amount of $3.8 million. It will receive a total of about $9 million. A companion resolution created a Small Business Economic Relief Grant program that will guide distribution of portions of the funds.
The council also extended its disaster emergency declaration to July 28 due to the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his report, Mayor Ken Castner told the council about attending the Black Lives Matter demonstration one day last week.
“We all know the story of George Floyd and what the ramifications of that event have been across the United States. Chief Robl has written a very thoughtful piece, which he not only had published but he read it on the radio. You know, Thursday afternoon, Chief Robl, Chief Kirko. And I attended a rally at the WKFL park, and I had been invited in order to show some solidarity was what they had asked for,” Castner said. “But I brought the chiefs along, Chief Rober brought a couple of more uniformed officers along with him. And I said, 'We're not here to give speeches. We're here to have dialogue." And the chiefs did an amazing job of entering into dialogue and answering questions.
And the council passed an ordinance that redefines how vegetation in right-of-ways are handled. Councilmember Rachel Lord explained.
“I'm really enthusiastic about this. I think that the ordinance amends our city code to clarify the intention of the city in terms of preserving vegetation in the right of way for a myriad of really good reasons,” Lord said. “It also clarifies that the objective with removal of vegetation is to maintain the street and not the right of way. The rights-of-way are actually maintained for the street infrastructure, not for the right of way itself.”
Lord also touted the road maintenance plan outlined in the ordinance.
“That will really outline what the condition of the roads are throughout the city and what the maintenance needs are both immediate and in the future. That I think, will be a huge service to the city and to the city's residents,” Lord said. “Not only in foresight for right away maintenance and understanding what needs exist there, but also just to really be transparent about where we are with our roads schedule overall.”
The council, on a 4-2 vote, also approved a resolution initiating a Seawall Improvement Special Assessment District for those portions of Ocean View Drive protected by the seawall constructed in 2002. It has needed constant maintenance, and this past winter, 20 of its 85 wooden panels were damaged to the point of needing complete replacement, and according to the city, more frequent sinkholes behind the wall indicate failure of the fiberglass sheet-piling along the toe of the wall. The dissenting votes were Councilmembers Hansen-Cavassos and Evenson.