Good News For Seldovia

| September 16, 2012 | 2 Comments

by Jenny Chissus

Sometimes, we can be discouraged about the apparent slow down of things in our little community, especially as we approach winter.  A business that decides not to continue, residents that move away, kids that leave the school (due to a move out-of-town, or the home school option) can be disheartening for those of us left behind.  Change is difficult, and it is hard to see old friends move away, retire or need to relocate for medical reasons.  But take heart, as this year we had 10 new businesses join our chamber and only 3 didn’t renew their membership.  This is progress!

The beauty is this,  when one door closes, another opportunity becomes available for someone new, with new energy, ideas and enthusiasm to build a lifestyle in Seldovia.  Each home that goes up for sale becomes a dream come true for a first time home buyer, retiree living their ultimate dream of summers in Alaska or new family to settle into our community!  Last year, 36 properties came on the market and 17 sold, – I’d say that is pretty phenomenal for our little community!

Besides all of us who love living here, there are A LOT of folks that are very attracted to our community, and this article gives you a glimpse into all the growth “behind the scenes” of Seldovia, which makes this a great place to live, with much hope and promise!

I met with Tim Dillon, Seldovia’s City Manager the other day, to go over some of the highlights of the many projects the City is working on – at this very moment!

Beware – this is a super long list of positives!!!  They are not in order of any importance, only as they came up in conversation!

1) We are looking forward to a November start on our Harbor renovation project, which will be overseen by the Corps of Engineers.    The project is out to bid – as we have already received $2m for Phase I.  (1 million from the State Municipal Harbor Facility Grant program, and 1 million from the Denali Commission)

Phase I  will include:

  • upgrading the float plane dock area
  • upgrading the main float that runs parallel to Main Street (that runs from the ramp all the way out to towards the entrance of the harbor)
  • replacing the missing pilings that weren’t replaced last time
  • upgrading the water and electrical system.

Folks wondered why we didn’t move forward on this earlier in the summer as the funds were already approved and available.  We had seasonal restraints from the Corps of Engineers for the installation of the pilings, in addition to the importance of planning to work during a time that it would least affect our busy summer season.

2)  We have received funding of $130k for a study to determine if there is an issue with infiltration of sea water into the sewer system along the slough lines.  There are 6 sewer markers along the slough that have to be dug up and Hopkins Brothers Construction received the bid to do the digging in order to perform the placement of the flow meters into the lines.  This project will be starting at the end of September.

3)  Seldovia has received $60K from VSW (Village Safe Water) and the city is allocating $20K from our maintenance and repair budget to repair 6 water lines along Main Street that consistently have had trouble with freezing up during the winter months.  These include:  Harbormaster building, Schneiders, Lents, The Boardwalk Hotel, The Tidepool and The Harbor Inn.  This project was also able to hire locally and Hopkins Brothers will be making the repairs before the 15th of October, 2012.

4)  SHARE (Seldovia Hall for Arts, Recreation and Education)  is in the first phase of preparing the ground for this great project.  As explained on their website:  “The hall could serve not only as an indoor/outdoor venue for music events, but also as a dedicated space for instructional workshops, summer art and science camps, dance and yoga classes, and private receptions.” 

This will be built at the Seldovia City Wilderness RV Park, just past Outside Beach.  In order to get started, they have received a grant from the Department of Natural Resources of  $144K to set the site up with water and power!   The City and others have been working, with equipment and time to meet the matching requirement of this grant.  It really has been a grass-roots/community/city effort!

The work has begun as Hopkins Brothers put in the water line to the building site this past week, and along the way, was able to install a total of 10 water pumps, so the individual campsites will have their own access to water!  This is quite an upgrade to the RV Park and will make this destination so much more appealing to the guests! The ball field and building area is beautifully situated near the front of the property, with views of the bay through the trees – and plenty of sun! It is going to be a fabulous location for many family and arts/sports gatherings in the future!  The next step will be bringing the electrical to the building site.  If there are additional funds, they may also put in power at the campsites.

When I spoke with Kari Hendricks, she mentioned that they will be getting the grass seed and there will be an opportunity to join in with a rake and assist in seeding the great ball field!  So keep an eye out for a notice, as she expects to have a volunteer work party within the next 10 days or so – Please come and help at the ground floor of this exciting venture for Seldovians!

5) We have all heard about the value-added processing plant facility to be built on the old cannery site, at the AMHS ferry terminal.   This business, when it is in operation, will be a major full-time and year-round employer in Seldovia!  Over $565K from the Governor’s budget (Thanks Gov. Parnell!) is in the bank to move forward on the building!   Currently, the city is submitting the last documents for the grant with EDA for the remainder of the necessary funds ($500K)   Mr. Dillon assured me that it looks as though site prep and construction will begin next year – they are already clearing the lot!  There has been a lot of speculation about the design of the structure, which has not yet been submitted to P&Z – so keep a look out for that meeting coming up!

6)  I’m sure you have noticed the Sea Otter Rescue Center that is mostly complete on the west side of the cannery lot.  This is on City property, leased to CISPRI for around $500/mo.  The facility was built in Nikiski and is Alaska’s only sea otter rescue facility.  Their truck was in town the other day and I went to check out the facility, as the gate was open!

I ran into Brian Heath, who is a Spill Tech who graciously gave me a quick tour of the facility.   I was only able to go inside one of the connex units (photo below).  Each of these structures house a different phase of care, feeding and housing for otters rescued during an oil spill. Brian was with the crew organizing the power lines and working towards completion of the facility.    There will be water/sewer connections and eventually there will be 3-4 large tanks in the center “hallway” between the connex units that will serve as pools for the otters as they are being rehabilitated.

One thing I wasn’t aware of regarding the facility, is that this is solely to care for otters only should there be an oil spill.   The otter’s survival in an oil spill situation is dependent on urgent treatment. Besides the mess, and toxic nature, when the oil coats the otter’s fur it impairs the otter’s ability to keep warm, therefore it can die quickly from hypothermia. The otter’s fur is also part floatation and when the fur is coated they will sink to the bottom and drown!  (Over 1,000 otter carcasses were found after the Exxon spill – and it is speculated that many may have just sunk to the bottom of the ocean – so the true number is unknown.)

I had been misinformed somewhere that this facility might care for birds or other sea mammals in addition to otters in need or distress.

As I explained to Brian – as much as I wish that this facility was staffed and active, available for education and opportunities to view otters up close – we hope that it will never be used, as an oil spill would not only be horrible for all sea creatures, but would be devastating to our beautiful Kachemak Bay/Cook Inlet.

Like a fireman who trains for a fire – we hate the thought of having a home in flames, yet we are thankful to have people who have the training, the equipment and the willingness to serve when needed!   It is all about preparedness.  We are fortunate to have such a great facility to take care of our SBE mascot the “Seldovia Sea Otter” if that ever unfortunate event happened in our waters.

7)  The final permits were approved and signed for Aerotech Inc. to build their helicopter hanger on their property north of the airport.  Aerotech Inc. plans to be working with Kenai Heli Ski this winter taking guests up into our mountains to experience our glorious winter snow/powder!   Aerotech Lodge (formally Alaska Tree Tops Lodge) will also be hosting some of these guests, along with a variety of bed and breakfast operators in Seldovia during winter 2013!

8)  The Water Filtration Plant for our community has been in the works for a few years, with an estimated price tag of 10.5 million. (We are already MORE than half way there, as we have 5.9m allocated to this project)  Mr. Dillon met with Governor Parnell last week  and has requested that it be funded in the budget for 2013.   Let’s hope that those funds will come through so that we can be in compliance and upgrade our system!

9)  The City of Seldovia has 7 Halibut Charter licenses that can be leased for the year for $500 each.  This has been a great opportunity for income for the city on an annual basis.   Since the change in the regulations a few years ago, many new charter captains weren’t able to continue their business, so this has opened up the door for new Seldovian captains to run a charter business out of Seldovia!  Four of the 7  licenses are currently leased – so if you have an interest – contact Layla at the Harbor Master’s office.

Thank you to our City Manager and his staff who have been working endlessly to apply for these funds and grants, and manage so many projects that benefit our community!  Each of these very important projects improves the quality of life, health, business or social well-being of our city, and we are thankful for everyone who is playing a part in each of these endeavors to make Seldovia an amazing place to live!


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Category: Business, Editor's Favorites

Comments (2)

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  1. SeldoviaGal says:

    Thanks Happy! There are sure a lot of great things happening in Seldovia – and it is important to keep the records straight! I certainly will let folks know when the series begins! Thanks for your readership! Jen

  2. jim&happy schneider says:

    Jenny………………thank you so much for your informative updates. You do a great job of cutting thru the “did-you-hear’s” and confusing “1/2 truth’s”. Seldovia is such a great place and I have great faith that it is on a real up-tick! Keep up the good reporting. Will be anxious to learn the date that the Property Seekers episode will be shown. So great that you were able to coordinate that filming being done in Seldovia! Frieda said she did not believe the camera people missed a trick! Your tele should ring off the hook! Regards, Happy

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