Council block grant application ok for housing first project

By Diana Haecker
The Nome Common Council dealt with two action items on the agenda in a quick and regular meeting on Monday, passing a first reading ordinance to dispose of town property along the road from the port to the DOT to allow for improvements and passing a resolution to apply for a state community development grant for the Housing First HomePlate project.
The City’s Port Road Ownership Ordinance relates to several right-of-way easements as the Department of Transport plans to rebuild Port Road to improve its ‘substandard’ traffic flow in support of the reconstruction and further expansion of the Port of Nome. The fair market value of the easements, approximately 89,000 square feet, was established at $197,700 by a third-party appraiser. The order states that “the Board finds that the use of the property is for beneficial transportation and port infrastructure purposes.”
The ordinance passed first reading and is scheduled for a public hearing and second reading on November 28.
The council also passed a resolution allowing the town of Nome to participate in a block grant program for community development. The city is reportedly applying—on behalf of the Nome Community Center’s HomePlate Housing First project—for a grant in the amount of $675,397 from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The lion’s share of funds is the installation of pilings, as well as the water and sewer connection from the main to the structure, including arctic pipes, fittings and utility boxes.
City Manager Glenn Steckman was out of town but attended virtually. His written report stated that the city experienced disruptions to the telephone system, including the 911 dispatch system. Some of the disruptions were caused internally by the city’s software and hardware, others were caused by the local phone providers.
He said the city and engineers are in the process of finalizing design details for heating and ventilation system upgrades at City Hall and the Recreation Center. He said the estimates were higher than expected, but also said the city still had $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act and $1.3 million in “excess” funds due to the CARES law.
The Nome Visitor Center will be closed from November 28 to January 3 for renovations, including new carpeting, heating, lighting and painting.
City management met with IronDog organizers last week. Nome will once again be halfway through Iron Dog 2023.
In the area of ​​communications, Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation wrote to the city that the council had authorized another community benefit sharing of $100,000 for this year. The letter said this was the NSEDC’s third community benefit sharing distribution this year. In August, the NSEDC authorized $100,000 per community “to enable communities to provide a $575 heating oil subsidy for each household in the area.” An additional $100,000 per community was declared in September in response to Merbok damage.
During citizens’ comments, Davis Hovey took to the podium and introduced himself as KNOM’s new interim CEO and added that the radio station was looking to fill its ranks with local hires.
In comments from council members, Scot Henderson asked why the common council did not incorporate the oath of allegiance into the agenda. “I ask, if no one has major concerns, that we incorporate the Pledge of Allegiance,” Henderson said. John Handeland said an invocation was a long-standing agenda item, which somehow got dropped at times. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t,” Handeland said.
In later comments, student representative Kellie Miller asked to add land recognition to the agenda as well. Councilor Sigvanna Topkok seconded the request.
Separately, Mayor Handeland said Iditarod officials will come to Nome this week for discussions on housing for mushers and fans, as hotel space is limited. And he said to take note of the annual Christmas extravaganza, to be held Thursday, Dec. 8 at Old St. Joe’s. Prior to the regular meeting, the board heard from Nome Public Schools Superintendent Jamie Burgess about the annual report on the state of Nome schools.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for November 28.