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Nome City Council Talks Mining Laws, Property Abatements

Papers in Nome City Council chambers
Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file

Heated words on mining and property abatements were exchanged during what Mayor Richard Beneville called a “productive” Nome City Council meeting Monday night.

Members of the mining community said the Coast Guard’s restrictions on load lines are harming mining in Nome. Dave Young of Arctic Sea Mining asked the City Council to help Nome’s fleets.

“They do have exemptions for fleets all over the country, special exemptions, so I don’t know why we can’t get it. … The Coast Guard said they would help us write it, they said they would help write the exemption, and I want to know what the town council’s position is on helping us.”

Nome Port Director Joy Baker says she asked U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan’s office about Coast Guard exemptions. She read his office’s response:

“We are not in a position to second-guess the Coast Guard and AVS determinations of safety.”

The Council said it was willing to further investigate and talk to other legislators, like U.S. Congressman Don Young, but first it wanted more information from Young about his correspondence with the Coast Guard.

Citizens also commented on property abatements, a discussion carried over from the July 9 meeting. The property at 604 E. Front Street remains standing without change or repair. The deadline was July 1. David Ciski of Nome returned to express discontent with the situation.

“You’ve all gotten the strongest mandate, even larger than the port whatever, to take up the garbage, to pick up the crap, because people don’t want to live and work in Nome. It’s hard to retain anybody, it’s hard to get people up here. Our hometown looks like a skid row ghetto.”

A building inspector from Fairbanks was called to examine this property and several others in question. As of Monday’s meeting, City Manager Tom Moran did not have the inspector’s report, but he promised:

“The three structures that remain from the resolution that the Council passed are going to be dealt with swiftly as soon as I get this report.”

Also on Monday night’s agenda: The Council has been asked to draft a resolution on public intoxication, loitering and vagrancy on Front Street. Efforts to draft legislation to shorten liquor store hours or ban certain liquor sales have been unsuccessful.

But the Council recognized that the issue is deeper than just alcohol consumption; the issue needs to be handled in a way that is sensitive and “does not have stereotyping within the language” of the legislation.

Mayor Beneville commented:

“A lot of things we’ve tiptoed around because we can’t talk about them, supposedly, and that’s what I find frustrating, very, very frustrating. And I’m a recovering alcoholic for 28 years and I can tell you how frustrating it is. … I want us to maybe take the kid gloves off and discuss this problem as it is, because it’s hurting our town.”

Beneville suggested that Nome work with some of the surrounding communities to address the issue.

Councilman Stan Anderson suggested that all of the minutes of past meetings on the topic, as well as failed ordinances, be brought to a work session so the Council could discuss the matter in further detail. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 27, at 5:30 pm, at Nome City Hall.

In final business, an ordinance passed requiring that by May 31, the Council must determine the local contribution to Nome Public Schools. Two resolutions also granted separate contracts to Nome Machine Works and Trinity Sails and Repair to maintain city and emergency vehicles.

The next Nome City Council regular meeting will be Monday, August 6, at 7 pm, at Nome City Hall.

Image at top: Papers in Nome City Hall Council Chambers (Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM).

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