City committee talks arboretum money, emergency route, sewage, future budget

The Public Works and Facilities Committee discussed four major topics at Monday’s meeting, ranging from short-term issues to a six-year plan of sorts.

In terms of more immediate issues discussed, the first was an amendment to the ADEC low interest loan for the Biosolids Project for $10 million. This loan would provide funding necessary to construct the Biosolids Dryer at the Mendenhall Waste Water Treatment Plant, and brings the total loan amount to $20 million. The loan will be repaid through Waste Water Utility revenues, according to a CBJ memo.

The MTP produces more than 5,300 tons of biosolids — broken-down sewage sludge produced for fertilization purposes — per year, according to a Powerpoint presented Monday. The loan discussed at the meeting would go toward constructing a new dryer, which evaporates moisture from the biosolids.

Secondly, the committee discussed an appropriation of $142,000 of Jensen-Olson Arboretum revenues from the Jensen-Olson Arboretum fund balance. These funds would be appropriated in two ways, as $127,000 would create the Jensen-Olson Arboretum Residence Deferred Maintenance Capital Improvement Program (CIP), and $15,000 would go to the Jenson-Olson Arboretum Parking & Conservatory CIP.

The Deferred Maintenance CIP would fund repairs to the residence in an attempt to prevent further structural damage from moisture to the building, including replacement of floor and wall framing, window, exterior siding and the installation of a ventilation fan. The funds headed to the Parking & Conservatory CIP would supplement funding for a new gravel parking lot for the arboretum.

The committee also discussed the usage of the Channel Vista Drive/Egan Drive Bike Path as an ambulance access route in the event of traffic stoppage on the Egan Drive Retaining Wall section of the highway. The CBJ will coordinate with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in the event of a traffic backup. Those on the committee acknowledged that this scenario is rare, but wanted to be prepared to use the path if the situation does arise.

Earlier this month, representatives from multiple local organizations met at Channel Vista Drive to examine the viability of the plan and see if an ambulance could successfully navigate the path. During the test, an ambulance made it through without incident, traversing the entirety of the path for its entire length from Channel Vista Drive to the Hospital Drive intersection. If necessary, the ambulance could also exit earlier in the route, reaching Egan at the Salmon Creek Reservoir exit/entrance.

The long-term topic at the meeting was the preliminary CIP for the fiscal years 2018 through 2023. The CIP serves as a strategic plan, developed by the CBJ Assembly, its boards and commissions, CBJ staff and the citizens of CBJ. The plan isn’t set in stone, but establishes a series of long-term goals and budgetary estimations that will be approved by the Assembly as funding is secured. The committee reviewed the plan during Monday’s meeting.

The committee is set to meet March 20, though due to multiple committee members possibly being absent that date, there’s a possibility the next meeting won’t be until April.

Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or

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