Petersburg’s borough assembly Monday continued a discussion about adding some parking space at the state-owned James A. Johnson airport. Short almost half of its members, the assembly made no decision on that ongoing topic. They also decided to wait on another discussion.
The assembly had just enough for a quorum with mayor Cindi Lagoudakis and assembly members Eric Castro, Nancy Strand and Jeigh Stanton Gregor attending the first regular meeting of this month. The four heard from Richard Burke, a planning commissioner and candidate for assembly, who has been lobbying for the additional parking space across the road from the Petersburg airport terminal. Burke researched the topic on behalf of the planning commission earlier this year and thought a rough parking lot could be built for around $55,000-60,000.
“The intent was to, in my proposal was to get extra space for parking,” Burke told the assembly. “My desire was for it to be something we could improve later on. So get the shot rock pad in there. We don’t need to maintain it in the winter. We don’t need to plow the snow in the winter. If it gets big holes in it we may need to put a little more rock in it.”
Burke designs logging roads for the U.S. Forest Service. The planning commission this year recommended the borough assembly pursue the additional parking at the airport.
Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht reported he had contacted the Alaska Department of Transportation about the possibility. He said a low-cost lease of state land may be possible but he expects it will cost more than Burke figures to construct that parking space.
“Like anything when you’re dealing with state property it turns into a bigger project,” Giesbrecht said. “They’re not really going to allow us to spread four inches of gravel out there and call it a parking lot. That’s not gonna work. But what will work, we don’t really know 100 percent either to be fair to what Richard’s talking about. To get to that point, basically we’re gonna have to start working with the state and start having attorneys look at contracts and DOT’s I’m sure has got a standard one. But they’re gonna come back and they’re gonna want it designed a certain way. We’ll likely have to provide some kind of drawings. I don’t know if they’re gonna require engineering documents or not, but hopefully not.”
He estimated a 30-space lot would cost the borough around $150,000-200,000 because of site preparation, gravel, cross walk lights, bike path repairs and protection for an underground water line. He also heard from the state that the DOT did not have money to expand parking lots or to add to the state’s maintenance work.
Public works director Karl Hagerman thought Burke’s goal of additional parking is worth looking into. “It might be apples and oranges what he thinks could go in and what the state would expect and we don’t really know what the state’s gonna say so, in my opinion it’s probably better to shoot high and address some things that Steve talks about so that we can, if this goes forward, we can plan on approval, instead of a constant revision process until we finally land on something the state’s gonna approve.”
Assembly members in the past have wondered about expanding existing parking space or using an overflow lot near the end of the runway. Mayor Cindi Lagoudakis appreciated that Burke had raised the issue.
“As you’ve started the conversation and it may not end up as you originally proposed but I think people are looking at different alternatives even if we reconfigure how parking is laid out at the airport or change where the snow deposit area ism” Lagoudakis said. “There may be some other options.”
The assembly took no vote on the issue but may continue with that discussion in the future. The assembly also decided to postpone a planned discussion on oversight of the local electric utility until all seven are at a meeting.
The only decisions they did make were to award a sole-source contract for Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department radios for just under $45,000 dollars. The assembly also made changes for two leases of borough land, approved a budget change for Kiseno Street sewer work and OK’d a ballot question on whether to continue a property tax exemption for buildings with sprinkler systems.