ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Assembly, Planners to Inspect No-Name Plan

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

City planning staff will present development concepts – from rock quarries to building houses – for the city’s No Name Mountain subdivision Wednesday night.

The presentation will be made at a joint work session of the Assembly and the Planning Commission 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

The draft Master Plan for the project details possible uses for different areas of the 830-acre parcel situated between the Starrigavan boat launch and Granite Creek.

It calls for recreational tourism or high-end housing at Harbor Point, housing development on a ridge in the center of the area, and rock quarrying near existing quarries on Granite Creek Road.

The Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, immediately after the joint work session.

The master plan and city planning staff highlighted the high costs of developing this land.

“Challenging site conditions (lots of muskegs, wetlands, and streams) throughout the study area will complicate the construction of roads, utilities, building foundations and other structures, thereby increasing development costs. High development costs will limit the ability to develop affordable housing within the study area,” the plan reads.

“There is a need in Sitka for more affordable housing options, and there was interest in this site providing that opportunity. But once the team researched the various costs involved and took into consideration current demographic and housing trends, we realized it would be a very tall order. The cost of housing, utilities, and site prep would place the cost of homes well out of the affordable range,” Planning Director Amy Ainslie said.

A plastic chair is set up in a clearing along No Name Creek this afternoon. A draft master plan for the Granite Creek to No Name Mountain area was released recently. The Assembly is scheduled to discuss the plan Wednesday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

City Special Projects Manager Scott Brylinsky, who is in charge of the no name planning, emphasized the high development costs.

“We would like the community to understand that one of the desires by a lot of people who responded to the survey is to open up land to affordable housing, but… Sitka’s housing costs are due primarily to the cost of infrastructure and construction, not lack of available land,” Brylinsky said.

“So it’s going to contribute to housing, but not affordable housing, because development costs are high,” he told the Sentinel.

Ainslie said that even properties such as dry cabins would not be a low-cost option in the area.

“Even if you did a dry cabin, just land prep and road infrastructure are going to be really large costs,” Ainslee said.

“And to go through all of those costs and still have a residential development that doesn’t provide all the basic amenities that Sitkans are used to may not be a feasible option,” she said.

For example, the plan cites a $10.7 million development cost to prepare the land for housing on Sound View Ridge, a low ridge running north-south through the center of the property. This figure does not include the possible costs of wetland mitigation.

With low-cost housing unlikely in the area, the Master Plan states that on the waterfront Harbor Point, one option is the development of high end housing.

“High-end view-homes could be built on larger lots along and near the shoreline, while perhaps more affordable smaller homes on smaller lots, condominiums, or apartments could be developed on the property’s interior,” the plan reads.

Another option for that seaside parcel was recreational tourism development.

“Harbor Point’s beautiful forested shoreline setting overlooking Sitka Sound could host various recreational tourism activities that are being sought by cruise ship visitors and independent travelers,” the plan continues.

Ainslee noted that the pandemic-related decline of the tourism industry may impact possible short- and medium-term development of the Harbor Point area. 

“We don’t know how long it is going to take for the tour industry to recover, and so the appetite for investing in new properties or lease development, we don’t know what the appetite for that is going to be,” she said.

As for industrial use of the land, the plan suggests continued quarrying on the south end of the property, where quarries already exist.

“Rock quarrying in the Granite Creek Industrial Area should continue and expand into Saddle Mountain to meet Sitka’s ongoing needs for structural fill material for construction projects,” states the plan.

The eastern edge of the land is mostly muskeg, which is difficult and expensive to develop.

Wednesday’s joint meeting will only involve discussion, with no voting on any plans, officials said. The Planning Commission will review the Draft Master Plan and formulate recommendations for the Assembly to consider.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

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The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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