Nome City Council and new City Manager Glenn Steckman braved the winter storm Monday night, to pass several action items during the council’s regular meeting.
Among them was an attempt to alleviate the housing shortage for some working professionals by entering into a ‘right of entry’ with Nome Public Schools.
“We will still control the property and they will have the right to list it in their grant application.”– Glenn Steckman
City Manager Glenn Steckman explained that the city isn’t giving away the land, but rather allowing Nome Public Schools to potentially use Block 31, the current ice rink location, for an apartment building. The school district needs to show they have land for a proposed teacher housing unit in order to apply for a grant from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. If NPS is awarded the grant money, there is also the possibility that some of those apartments could become police officer housing. The resolution passed unanimously.
NPS Superintendent Burgess explained in the last City Council meeting that the terms in the grant they are applying for, would allow teacher housing to be shared with health and public safety professionals. If awarded the grant, they plan to use a similar model to the apartment unit already on the Beltz-campus: a two-story, sixteen- unit building that is suited for Arctic conditions.
During citizen’s comments Monday night, Paul Kosto continued to push the public safety conversation.
“We’re not serving our citizens of Nome. Period.”– Paul Kosto
Kosto cited old articles including a 1995 article written by Nome Attorney Erin Lillie which read:
“Because one mistake can let someone go free and commit another crime in the future, women’s shelter Director Beverly Bower wants to make sure Nome Police use proper procedures on sexual assault cases in the future. The Bering Sea Women’s president Michelle Lyons warned Council that she did not want her words to fall on sympathetic but essentially deaf ears when she offered her group as a resource to the Nome Police for sexual assault cases. Following Lyons at the podium, Bower demanded the Council acknowledge a problem with the police department and with the community.” (excerpt)
Kosto then went on to read previous communications written by Chiefs John Papasadora and Bob Estes citing a lack of adequate resources for Nome Police. But, Kosto says, it isn’t just policing that’s an issue: he also listed recent examples where the volunteer ambulance department took fifteen minutes to arrive at an incident. Kosto works part-time as an evidence custodian for NPD and serves on the volunteer ambulance team.
Multiple councilmembers agreed that ambulance services are a concern and should be a priority. Steckman, the new city manager, says he will be looking into the situation, starting with the volunteer ambulance staff.
“Let me reach out to the players, the fire department and the ambulance folks, and hear all sides and I know this has been discussed a lot. I am somewhat familiar with ambulance and paid staffs and it’s a very expensive operation and very rarely will you be fully reimbursed.”– Glenn Steckman
Steckman also shared that the findings of the most recent NPD audit, conducted on November 5th through Russell Consulting, LLC, should be available in 6-8 weeks.
In other business, the Council adopted an ordinance to have a non-voting youth representative from Nome-Beltz. Whomever fills that position, and an alternate, will be elected by NBHS students to give a youth perspective to the Council.
Nome’s City Council also unanimously approved a resolution to join the Alaska Remote Sellers Sales Tax Commission.
Their next regular meeting is scheduled for December 9th.
Image at top: Deputy Clerk Christine Piscoya (left) and City Manager Glenn Steckman (right) at Nome City Council meeting. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019).