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Vote Is Delayed on Firing Range Permit; Chamber of Commerce Will Run Nome Visitor’s Center

Nome City Council Chambers. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.
Nome City Council Chambers. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

Following a work session focused on future development of the Arctic deep draft port, the Nome City Council made several unanimous decisions during their regular meeting on Monday night. All six councilmembers were present in the room or via telephone (Mark Johnson called in).

The Council was set to convey the Sunset Firing Range to the Nome Sportsman Association, but City Manager John Handeland asked the Council to delay their decision on the ordinance until he can meet with the city attorney.

“There were two actions that were taken with this. One was to put this off so that we could have legal review of it and also meet the timing requirements for disposal of property. But then we also had a motion to administratively extend it for one more year.”

According to the resolution, the Nome Sportsman Association’s permit won’t expire until the year 2119, although the City can revoke it with 30 days advance notice.

Association President Steve Smith asserted that their application for the necessary land use permit was based on the city attorney’s language.

“We’ve been running the range for 11 years now, so we put this proposal together to lengthen our time. It’s pretty much verbatim of the original land use permit that the city lawyer wrote. The length of time was about the only change we made, and then, the request for a little bit of City help: once a year, eight hours’ worth of equipment operator time.”

However, Smith said delaying the ordinance would not create difficulty for the Nome Sportsman Association. Association member Paul Kosto agreed with Smith but also recommended the Council not continue to postpone this ordinance, or else issues could arise.

The City Council unanimously decided to delay the final vote on the ordinance until their second meeting in August (on the 26th).

Other unfinished business before the Council was a contract between the City and the Nome Chamber of Commerce regarding operation of the visitor’s center. Handeland says the one-year agreement is the same as last year’s, but with an updated dollar amount requested by the Chamber.

“The prior agreement with the Chamber was based on a contract amount of $175,000 per year. We’ve recommended and changed the amount to $200,000. That still doesn’t fully fund what the Chamber of Commerce believes it costs to run the visitor’s center, but it gets it closer.”

The Council all agreed to approve the retroactive contract, which took effect starting on July 1. Councilmember Mark Johnson abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest. He is on the Board for the Chamber of Commerce.

Another resolution the Council approved during last night’s meeting moves forward with the bathroom renovations at Anvil City Science Academy. The Interim City Manager explained that the original project bid from Bering Straits Development Company (BSDC) was $50,000 higher than the final amount. The total cost for the renovation project is $309,056.

“A substantial portion of that was associated with some of their overhead expenses. By extending the period of performance, they were also able to cut some costs or save some costs in this that they were able to pass on to us.”

Handeland went on to say that ACSA is submitting the project costs to the state for potential reimbursement, but there is no guarantee on the school receiving those funds from the Alaska Department of Education.

All councilmembers voted in favor of entering into contract with BSDC for the project. And once again, the Council made an unanimous decision when they approved Russel Rowe’s re-appointment to the Nome Port Commission. Between Rowe and a second applicant, Ralph Ray, Mayor Richard Beneville recommended that Rowe keep his seat on the commission, saying Rowe has done a good job and wants to continue serving.

Before adjourning into executive session, the Council also discussed their support for the Nome Kennel Club’s Dog Fair in August, potentially attending an undoing racism workshop at the Katirvik Cultural Center, as well as the arrival of an assisting tug vessel from Cook Inlet Tug and Barge, which will do business in Nome later this summer.

The Nome City Council will convene again tomorrow, July 24 at 5:30pm, for a special meeting to discuss the search for a new City Manager.

Image at top: Nome City Council Chambers. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

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