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Miss last Monday’s Homer City Council meeting? No worries, here's a rundown

Image Courtesy of the City of Homer
City of Homer

The Homer City Council is continuing its work on improving road infrastructure and planning for more non-motorized and pedestrian transportation.

City council members set aside over $180,000 at their regular meeting Monday to hire the Anchorage-based firm Kinney Engineering to look into traffic patterns and update the city's Master Transportation Plan. The plan gets updated every 20 years.

Homer resident Adele Person, a volunteer with Homer Trails Alliance and the Homer Drawdowneffort, praised the city’s efforts and encouraged the council to consider several angles in its new plan.

“In terms of what that transportation plan is serving, there are three lenses,” Person said. “[There’s] our economy, safety and our community health — where green spaces are and how people can move around. And then also really thinking about climate change, which is a lot of our community effort right now.”

The council also approved the purchase of three new aerators for the sewer treatment plant. Officials said the aerators add oxygen to wastewater, which helps break down pollutants.

Council members also appropriated$100,000 for a fire hydrant replacement program. Public Works Director Jan Kaiser said the city needs to replace hundreds of decades-old hydrants as their metal parts continue to rust and erode.

The council also approved a resolution renewing City Manager Robert Dumouchel’s term. Dumouchel has held the position since 2020. The renewed contract includes a yearly salary package of over $140,000 and will continue until December 31, 2025.

Legislative update

Alaska Republican Sen. Gary Stevens, of Kodiak, was at Monday’s meeting and gave a presentation on his work in the last legislative session.

Stevens updated the council on the successful funding of a $750,000 grant for a feasibility study of the Homer Harbor expansion project. Stevens said that while it wasn’t a large sum of money, it did “get the project started.”

He also praised the approval of this year’s $3,200 Permanent Fund Dividend and discussed what might happen if the majority of voters approve a constitutional convention in this November's election. If approved, the constitutional convention could pave the way for changing the Alaska state constitution. Stevens said he personally would vote “No” on the constitutional convention.

Former City Council member Heath Smith was critical of Sen. Stevens’ legislative work securing funds for the Harbor.

Smith is running against Stevens in this year's election. He said the Port of Nome and the Port of Alaska in Anchorage both received about $200 million dollars for their harbor expansion plans, whereas Homer only garnered $750,000.

“I think it's pretty clear on what he's delivered for us,” Smith said. “When it comes down to it, we had a project that has been one of our top priorities for at least a decade. And, you know, taking turns for crumbs, I don't think is what we're in the business for having representatives.”

Looking ahead

Coming up later this month, the Homer City Council is expected to hold a final reading of an ordinance determining the fate of the HERC 2 building – the smaller of the former school buildings. Homer Education and Recreation Complex, or HERC, was used by the Public Works building maintenance as well as city office space for years. The building is slated to be torn down and more than $150,000 has been set aside for the demolition.

Council members are also expected to consider approving a new police cruiser at that meeting on August 22.

Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Desiree has called Alaska ‘home’ for almost two decades. Her involvement in radio began over 10 years, first as a volunteer DJ at KBBI, later as a host and producer, and now in her current role as a reporter. Her passions include stories relating to agriculture, food systems and rural issues. In her spare time, she can often be found riding her bicycle, creating art from handmade paper, or working in the garden.
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