Petersburg Indian Association is looking to buy a few lots from the Petersburg Borough close to where they’re headquartered. The Borough Assembly will vote on their application at its meeting today at noon. 

Petersburg’s tribe has filed an application to buy Borough property located on the corner of Haugen Drive and 12th Street. In a letter to the Borough assembly, PIA’s Tribal Administrator Chad Wright, said the majority of the land would be put towards building a parking lot for the tribe’s employees and commercial tenants. He said the Tribe is also looking at developing the uphill portion of the plot for housing or retail. 

PIA’s application was given the green light by Petersburg’s Planning Commission, which also added several recommendations. Among them: a request that PIA maintain an informational sign sitting on the edge of the lot. The sign is for the nonprofit Northern Nights Theater, which benefits local schools. In a letter to the Borough, Tribal Administrator Chad Wright said that PIA is willing to give them an easement for the sign. 

If PIA’s application moves forward at today’s meeting, the assembly will decide whether they’ll exempt the sale from a public auction. If that happens, Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht will move into direct negotiations with the Tribe.  

The final terms of those negotiations are up to the Assembly — but they could mean a discount for PIA.

At its meeting in early June, the assembly passed an ordinance adding federally-recognized Tribes to the list of entities that can buy Borough property for less than its assessed value if they can prove they’ll use the land for public good. 

The assembly is also in the process of trying to secure more land. They’ll decide whether it will appeal a decision handed down by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which denies the Borough ownership of two parcels of land. One parcel is located at Prolewy Point along the Kupreanof shoreline, and the other at Hood Point, which is adjacent to Beecher Pass State Marine Park. 

However, in a letter to the Borough, Community Development Director Liz Cabrera said the likelihood of a successful appeal is low. It would have to show that the Borough’s interest in obtaining the land outweighs public interest in state ownership. The state’s justification of its “higher need” is that it wants to keep a buffer between the marine park and the nearby private land. It also wants to preserve scenic views and natural habitat values in the immediate area. If the assembly votes “yes,” the Borough has until August 14th to protest the state’s decision.

The assembly will meet today at noon in the assembly chambers. KFSK will broadcast this meeting live and post the recordings in our Assembly Archives. Anyone from the community can join the meeting in person, by phone, or on Zoom. There’s more information on KFSK’s community calendar.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect the correct location of the two parcels of land the Alaska Department of Natural Resources denied Petersburg Borough.