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Nome Common Council prioritizes port and housing construction

Nome Common Council meeting. Jan 24, 2022. Screenshot from livestream

The Nome Common Council voted on Jan. 24 to endorse four items to the Alaska legislature as part of the city’s Legislative Priorities Package. The package lets the state legislature know which projects the City of Nome wants the state to spend money on. It’s up to the state legislature, however, to decide which projects will actually receive state funding.

With the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project continuing to advance, the council listed port construction as Nome’s highest priority. A new teacher housing complex came next on the list, followed by incentives to encourage construction of additional affordable housing. The final priority is the construction of a “Covered Multi-Use Recreational Structure,” which will house the new ice skating rink.

The third priority in the list, incentives for additional housing construction, was not originally part of the resolution. The council’s newest member, Scot Henderson, proposed that the council add it to the resolution.

“I’ve heard the primary concern is ‘why doesn’t the city offer incentives to construct housing?’ … How about we add a priority that says ‘provide incentives to stimulate the construction of affordable housing in Nome’?” Henderson said.

The council also discussed removing the multi-use recreational facility from the list of priorities, but ultimately no council member moved to actually do so.

In addition, the council discussed Nome’s Historic Preservation Plan. Ken Hughes, head of the Planning Commission, explained that the current plan is meant to function as a starting point.

“What the plan does is make (the city) eligible (for) funding to discover what it is that (the council is) asking us to put in the plan,” Hughes said.

Some council members, however, remained convinced that the plan still needs work before the council approves it, which KNOM has reported on previously.

“From my standpoint, I think that if we’re writing a historic document, that we (should) try to include as much of the history (as possible) in that document, and that there seems to be something potentially missing,” Council Member Mark Johnson said.

The council voted to table consideration of the city’s historic preservation plan at least until the planning commission meets on Feb. 1.

The council also voted to extend the emergency powers granted to City Manager Glenn Steckman due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration of a local emergency now extends to April 30, though the council may extend it further before then. 

In other business, the council adopted the results of the FY 2021 audit that Altman, Rogers & Co. performed, and authorized the city manager to contract with Altman, Rogers & Co. again for FYs 2022–2024. As KNOM previously reported, the council also approved a Port Commission request for additional funding to advance the design phase for the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project. Finally, the council reappointed Ken Hughes to his seat on the Nome Planning Commission.

The Nome Common Council will meet next on Feb. 2 for a work session, then on Feb. 14 for a regular meeting. Nome residents are invited to attend and comment on both meetings either in person or online.

Image at top: The Nome Common Council meets on the evening of Jan. 24, 2022. Screenshot from meeting livestream.

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