Frustrated by the lack of public forum regarding proposed funding for the Kake-Petersburg Road, Petersburg and Kupreanof City residents spoke out against the project during Monday night's City Council meeting.
Petersburg resident Mike Stainbrook submitted a letter to the council that contained a sample resolution asking Governor Sean Parnell for a line item veto of the road. “This funding requires a bold reaction. A request for veto,” he said.
The 50-mile road was added to the state budget by Senator Bert Stedman as part of $870 million in transportation projects. The proposed location of the road would run northeast to northwest starting at the roadless City of Kupreanof which rests at the base of Petersburg Mountain. The project has a timeline between 2013 and 2016. The project has also been linked to a proposed powerline that would bring more affordable power to Kake.
“I ask you to use your voice and your vote as councilmen to request that the governor put this money back into the unregulated general fund. And request that the next budget process the governor and the legislature identify alternative sources of power for Kake,” Stainbrook said.
Kupreanof resident Joan Kautner shared her views, “We need to employ very high standards when spending state money in the name of our district,” she said.
Using Prince of Wales as an example, Kautner said, “Gravel roads rarely bring prosperity.” She also commented that Kupreanof has an ordinance banning roads. “This resolution might be the only chance for Petersburg and Kupreanof to stand in solidarity … please support the resolution,” she said.
Forest Sebastian also spoke out by saying, “What's more laughable than spending $40 million just to drive out to the north end of Kupreanof?”
Sebastian pointed out the need for the area to remain unchanged in order to support tourism and recreation. He also pointed out that $40-million would not cover many other costs such as the upkeep of the road.
Eric Lee also asked for a resolution, “Instead of a boondoggle, it really serves no clear purpose. Which is what it would be … I think it would be really great if the City Council could send a resolution to the governor,” he said.
Councilman Braun pointed out, “The worst part is that this doesn't even include funding for the powerline, which is another $40-million. Kake isn't even going to get power with this road.”
Braun said that if the state wanted to help Kake with an affordable power source, alternative energy such as solar power, would help the residents of Kake right away.
“I have mixed feelings about it. Sen. Stedman has been very good to Petersburg, especially this year,” Mayor All Dywer said.
He also pointed out that Governor Parnell vetoed the same project the last time it was included on the state's budget.
Councilman Don Koenigs proposed that the council draft a resolution based on Stainbrook's report. The motion passed 4 to 1, the Mayor opposed. Councilman John Jensen and Councilman Mark Jensen were absent.