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Kodiak projects fare well
by Drew Herman
Jun 30, 2011 | 397 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kodiak’s capital projects survived Gov. Sean Parnell’s veto pen mostly unscathed, with $41.44 million approved for 42 projects throughout House District 36 including aquaculture, power generation, a new library and an artificial turf sports field on the approved list made public Wednesday.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Rich Walker about the state’s $2 million contribution toward installation of a multipurpose artificial turf field in Baranof Park.

Walker, vice president of the Kodiak Football League and vice chair of the city parks and recreation advisory board, said the strategy adopted last year of breaking the project up into phases seems to have paid off with approval from the Legislature and governor.

“A lot of people have worked real hard to get that through,” he said, mentioning local volunteers and the support of Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Alan Austerman.

Start of work on the sports field project still has to wait for the city and borough to come up with another $900,000, Walker said.

“I think that’s probably going to be another little hurdle we’ll have to get over,” he said.

While acknowledging the local governments are facing tough financial times, Walker believes the state grant will encourage Kodiak to find the money.

“It will be a really big help,” he said.

Kodiak Public Library Association (KPLA) chair Erin Harrington is confident the organization can shepherd efforts to raise the remaining funds needed to start building a new library on Borough Hill near Kodiak High School. The $6.9 million coming from the state accounts for more than half the estimated $13.6 million cost.

“It really doesn’t look too bad for this project,” Harrington said.

She said the city and other sources have already committed about $2.25 million, and KPLA expects a productive six to 12 months of fundraising coming up to keep on track for breaking ground in 2012.

“It’s not unreasonable right now,” Harrington said.

Possible sources include the Rasmuson Foundation, which invited KPLA to apply for a grant.

“We’ll find out from them before Christmas,” Harrington said. “That’s just one of the things we’ll be doing.”

Harrington thinks the partnership of KPLA and the city government has proved effective for moving the new library project along, and Kodiak has learned a lot from recent similar projects in Homer, Haines, Ketchikan and other Alaska towns.

Other large projects approved for funding include the Kodiak Electric Association Terror Lake hydroelectric expansion, $7.52 million; Anton Larsen Bay dock, $2 million; ultraviolet secondary water treatment facility, $3.62 million; Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association projects, $2.8 million; and a Womens Bay tsunami emergency shelter, $1.03 million. The complete list of approved and vetoed Alaska projects is online at http://media.adn.com/smedia/2011/06/29/13/24/Th6jD.So.7.pdf.

Other rural districts generally received more in state funding, but also suffered more from Parnell’s vetoes. House District 38 (Bethel) will get $114 million, or $34.6 million less than requested. The Bristol Bay/Aleutian Islands district comes in for $76 million, after vetoes on $4.3 million.

The only two Kodiak area projects the governor struck out were $1.5 million for airport improvements in Old Harbor and $12,000 for a concrete outdoor surface at the Kodiak Animal Shelter.

Humane Society of Kodiak president Karen Yashin said a concrete surface would be easier to disinfect than the gravel in the fenced area where dogs are kept.

“It’s a health issue,” Yashin said.

The $12,000 was to have supplemented a mini-grant from the city for the concrete, and the veto puts the project in doubt, Yashin said.

“That’s too bad, because I don’t know if the city can do it for us at this point,” she said.

Yashin doesn’t know if the name on the grant request influenced the governor. She stressed that the Kodiak Humane Society has no connection with the Humane Society of the United States, which is unpopular with some people in Alaska.

“I guess the governor doesn’t realize we’re not affiliated,” she said.

The veto comes on top of a cut in the Kodiak Island Borough budget that eliminates funding for an animal control officer outside city limits.

“We’re getting slammed left and right this week,” Yashin said.

The Kodiak Humane Society is not sure how the cuts will affect them, but Yashin promised the nonprofit will working to provide services such the shelter, pet adoption and spaying.

“We’re not done talking about it yet,” she said.
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