A $ 6.7 million bond to add artificial turf to Ketchikan fields looks set to be presented to voters in October


Norman Walker Field. (photo by Borough of Ketchikan Gateway)

A plan to borrow nearly $ 7 million to modernize and reconfigure some of Ketchikan’s public ball fields could come close to a popular vote. A slim majority of the Borough Assembly declares that it wants voters to assess the cost of the proposal, which could be done to the detriment of other priorities.

Going forward with the modernization of the district’s fields despite a sharp drop in district revenues in 2020 and 2021 would come at a cost, finance director Cynna Gubatayao told the assembly.

“There are ways it can work, but it requires compromises,” she said.

The Ketchikan Borough Assembly is weighing a bond measure of $ 6.7 million to finance the modernization of public sports fields around Ketchikan.

It would modernize several athletic fields, including Norman Walker Field near Schoenbar Middle School, which would be reconfigured to better accommodate high school and American Legion baseball teams.

He would expand the larger of the two baseball fields at Walker Field, add new stands and replace the sand playing surface with artificial turf. The smallest field the size of Little League would be done away with, possibly replaced with a parking lot.

The Upper Drency Dudley Field near Ketchikan High School would also receive a new artificial turf surface and would be expanded to accommodate the school’s softball team. Lower Dudley Field would get a new dashboard and expanded seating area.

The bond would also pay over $ 600,000 in accessibility improvements for a field at Houghtaling Elementary.

The planned improvements stem from a 2019 study of the borough’s sports fields, including a survey of the people and organizations that use them. The assembly voted last year to make it a priority.

But Ketchikan’s chief financial officer Cynna Gubtayao said the continuation of the bond on the ground would likely cause delays for a number of other projects – a roof on the Ketchikan skatepark, an outhouse for South Point Higgins Beach and improvements to the Lund Street playground.

Assembly Member Felix Wong said he would rather wait until this summer’s sales tax figures are released. He said he was concerned that putting it to a public vote before the borough had a clear picture of its summer 2021 income could lead the public to reject the obligation and kill. the project.

“So maybe giving it a little more time would give the general public a little more confidence to vote for this,” Wong said.

But a simple majority of four members of the assembly voted to move the link to the October 5 municipal ballot. Assembly Member David Landis said he was optimistic tourism-related revenues would recover sooner than the CFO’s forecast.

“I think it’s important,” Landis said. “I trust the voters to vote directly on this. I think we owe it to the field users to put this in front of the voters. And I think if we don’t, it might never happen.

Landis was supported by Covenants Jeremy Bynum, AJ Pierce and Sven Westergard. Borough officials should bring back the question of the deposit in early August so that the assembly can officially place it on the ballot.

Manager contract

In other business, the assembly approved a salary increase of $ 18,000 for Borough Director Ruben Duran. This stems from contract negotiations which also add six days of vacation for a total of 36 days of annual vacation.

Landis said that until a recent public records release requested by KRBD and Duran’s predecessor Dan Bockhorst, who opposed the pay rise, he was unaware the director consulted with resource staff. employees of the borough on competitive salary levels.

“And it seemed very – it didn’t go well, with the manager asking one of his employees to help him figure out what his salary should be. I think it should have been done independently. I had no idea this had happened, ”Landis said.

He said he wanted to postpone the review of the contract – he said he had lingering questions about how the contract was negotiated. Duran’s current contract expires in December.

Landis, Westergard and Bynum each said the salary negotiation process was “uncomfortable”.

But Assembly member Judith McQuerry didn’t want it. She stood up for the compensation program.

“Putting this back is not in our best interest. It’s pimping. This is about flattering a disgruntled former borough worker, and I am opposed to him bending, ”said McQuerry.

She voted with a 5-2 majority to approve the contract which increases the director’s salary to $ 160,000 per year with six additional vacation days. Westergard and Landis voted against.

Other members of the assembly, including Bynum and Austin Otos, said the $ 18,000 increase for the manager was reasonable. They argued that the previous contract had underpaid the borough’s main administrator, in office since the end of 2016.

Weiss Field Ordinance

Finally, the assembly gave the green light for a code change allowing stricter rules for dogs on Weiss Fields near Point Higgins Elementary School. But the assembly amended the new ordinance to make it clear that dogs would still be welcome on athletic fields.

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