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Public Intoxication Ordinance Fails; City Seeks To Buy Old Masons’ Property

Nome's Front Street on a wintry night
Nome's Front Street, a common thoroughfare for the city's taxis. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

Amid concerns over the clarity and breadth of the proposal, an ordinance that would have prohibited intoxication on public right-of-ways was voted down during Monday night’s Nome City Council meeting. The measure failed with only four councilmen present.

Councilman Tom Sparks felt this proposal was not specific enough in language and could potentially affect unintended pedestrians:

“But I know there were several meetings where we said: ‘Let’s do something, let’s try something.’ So, I think this should go to the second reading, but I do have some concerns about how broad it is. The way this reads, it’s like, if you’re intoxicated downtown and you want to be responsible and park your car down there and walk home, then you’re walking down the road and, you know, so I think maybe it’s a little too broad.”

Regardless, Sparks, along with councilman Stan Anderson, voted in favor of passing the ordinance on to a second reading phase; however, councilmen Louis Green Sr. and Mark Johnson killed the motion in the first reading phase.

Another ordinance in the first reading phase during Monday night’s meeting could allow the City to purchase property from the Kenai Masonic Lodge #11 F. and A.M.

As City Manager Tom Moran explains, the Kenai Masons are the trustees of the land, which was once owned by Nome Masons:

“They do have title to it; they can deed us title to it. There are quite a few plots available; the only covenant we have to make to acquire the Masons area is to make a section for once-upon-a-time Nome Masons who may want to be buried there. And that number is so, so small that it’s such a small percentage of where we can still continue to bury members of the general public.”

For $20,000, the City could buy the west half of the Masonic and City cemeteries, providing more space for community members to be buried until a new cemetery area is designated. The ordinance passed on to a second reading phase, where its future will be determined at the next Council meeting.

Before adjourning, the City Council briefly discussed the upcoming Nome elections. Councilman Anderson suggested that more candidates who have lived fewer years than he run for office.

“I hope we get a bunch of young people filing for City Council, because it’s about time that they’re going to be paying for this operation in the future, and it’s about time they get onboard,” said Anderson.

Mayor Richard Beneville echoed Anderson’s sentiments with a call to action directed at all of Nome’s residents:

“City of Nome: this is about your government. And step up to the mark, become a candidate for city council, mayor, whatever, but get involved. There’s lots of things happening. And people, you can’t complain about it if you don’t participate in it, that’s the trick about democracy, you’ve got to work on it.”

Today is the last day to file as a candidate for Mayor of Nome or any of the open City Council seats, School Board seats, and Utility Board seats. The City Council will convene its next regular meeting at 7pm on September 25th in City Hall.

Image at top: Nome’s Front Street. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

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