NEW BREW – Zach Anderson stands at the bar of the recently opened Harbor Mountain Brewing Company Tuesday afternoon. The brew pub, on the site of the former Baranof Island Brewery, is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

RFPs to be Sought For Housing, Library

     The Assembly voted Tuesday to continue moving forward with plans for a 60 percent expansion of Kettleson Memorial Library.
    In a 6-0 vote the Assembly approved a motion to advertise for architects for the estimated $5.7 million expansion. The project would be completed with funds available from the state, and no required local match.
    The project would add 4,650 square feet to the current 7,750 square foot building on the existing site. It’s a much scaled-down version of the originally proposed $10 million expansion, but the new building would meet several important needs, Library Director Sarah Bell said. That includes more space for the historical collection, a separate room for computer use, more reading space for adults, a general use space for presentations and separate rooms for teens and younger kids.
    The Assembly was enthusiastic about the proposed expansion, which would bring the building to 12,400 square feet.
    “I think we’re on the road to good improvements on this building,” Assembly member Pete Esquiro said.
    Mike Reif said he was pleased the proposal would cost no additional city money, and reduce the yearly maintenance costs.
    “It’s a win-win for everyone,” he said.
    Phyllis Hackett said that she was pleased with the process, that the library building committee and city staff were able to rethink the original plan, and come back with a scaled-back version that fits the budget.
    “I’m glad for the process,” she said.
    Paul Voelckers, the Juneau architect in charge of the preplanning process over the past year, presented the options for various levels of expansion. The planning was done under guidance of library experts provided under a charitable foundation grant.
    Voelckers led the Assembly on a virtual reality tour of a design for the site prepared by his firm. The theoretical building preserves much of the present structure with an expansion toward the parking lot. The design features large picture windows facing the water and skylights to take advantage of natural light.
    The planning committee that worked with Voelckers the past year considered several options, including a 30 percent, a 60 percent and an 80 percent increase in size, and a “full rebuild” of the library.
    The planners said the “do nothing” proposal would actually be more expensive, since the existing building would need $2.1 million in work, including a roof replacement, ADA restrooms and a new heating and ventilation system. The state grant is for new library construction.
    The overall budget for the 60 percent expansion is $6.4 million which includes all costs, and contingencies.
    “At this level of conceptual design, the contingencies are large and the project may gain additional grants and/or donations as it moves forward,” the city public works staff said in a memo. “As the project is refined through the design process we will make adjustments as needed to stay within the available budget.”
    The Assembly also reviewed progress on the Centennial Hall expansion project. Voelckers was the planning architect on that project also, but city officials chose another architect to take over the actual design of the project.
Legislative Priorities
    The Assembly approved a state lobbying packet that asks for another $43 million from the state for the Blue Lake expansion project, among other projects.
    The Assembly reviews the list of legislative priorities that are given to legislators and state departments to clarify Sitka’s needs. Some of the needs are on the list from year to year, including requests for education funding, revenue sharing to the city, and transportation funding, including equitable ferry service.
    While that figure is high, Assembly members agreed that there was no harm in asking, since there is a real need for the funds in order for the city to keep affordable electric rates. The additional $43 million from the state would cover the difference between the consultant’s estimate for construction and the bids that came in this summer. The city currently plans to issue revenue bonds for $52 million for the project.
    “The original estimated project cost of $100 million has escalated to $145 million,” states the legislative packet for the 2014 budget year. “If CBS is forced to bond an additional $43 million, as well as the $52 million, electric rates would have to increase by 60 percent to pay for the bonds. This could cripple Sitka’s economy and result in even greater population loss and community hardship in Sitka’s future.”
    In other requests to the state, the city listed:
    – $42 million to retire the Green Lake debt.
    – $6 million to provide an alternative water source during the Blue Lake expansion project, when that source will be turned off for 60 days.
    – $2.6 million to replace the transient float at Thomsen Harbor, which would be matched by a city appropriation.
    – $5.4 million to cover the wear on city streets used as detours during the state’s Sawmill Creek Road upgrade.
    – $4.2 million in visitor improvements, from the cruise ship passenger fees.
    – $7.7 million to replace the city bulkhead at the Marine Services Center.
    – $9.3 million to stabilize the waterfront infrastructure at Sawmill Cove Industrial Park.
    – $3.7 million for Swan Lake improvements, including a large-scale dredging project.
    – $6.4 million for a multipurpose track and field.
    – $3.4 million for an alternative heat source for the library and Centennial Hall.
    Other requests were for $1.3 million to help with the city wastewater treatment plant effluent heat pump, $787,000 in improvements to the Jeff Davis Street water and sewer system, $9.2 million for harbor improvements, $5.6 million for Whitcomb Heights improvements, $351,000 for a community playground, $419,833 for the second phase of the Cross Trail multimodal pathway, $400,000 for a metal baler for the city scrapyard, $60,000 for shooting range improvements, $6 million for the driving range at the trooper academy, $2.1 million for a new water supply line to Japonski Island, $2.1 million in improvements to Japonski Island, and $2 million in improvements to loading zones on Lake Street, Harbor Drive and the Airport Road.
Planning Changes
    The Assembly remanded back to city staff a proposed ordinance calling for a number of changes to clarify rules related to zero lot lines.
    The Assembly passed an amendment to the proposed ordinance to stipulate that daycare operations for up to four kids are allowable conditional uses in zero lot line properties.
    Valorie Nelson, who raised objections to a recent decision related to a daycare with more than four children in a zero-lot line property, said she didn’t believe the proposed change clarifies the rules.
    Planning Director Wells Williams said, “It’s our view it does clarify the code, and eliminates the inconsistencies.”
    The issue of zero lot lines in residential zones came up following a recent decision to grant a conditional use permit for an existing daycare in a zero lot line property located in a residential zone.
    Assembly members turned down the ordinance as presented, and gave their suggested changes to Williams, who will present a new ordinance for a future Assembly meeting.
    By a narrow margin the Assembly passed on for third reading an ordinance to start building up a “sinking fund” to pay for maintenance of city streets, parks and buildings.
    The ordinance requires the city to keep cash on hand that equals 25 percent of the expenditures in the general fund, excluding capital projects.
    The ordinance calls for the administrator to transfer money into the sinking fund at the beginning of the fiscal year. Five votes of the Assembly would be required to change the amount recommended by the administrator.
    Hackett and Thor Christianson voted against the measure.
    “I’m not comfortable with it,” Christianson said. “I don’t think it’s good government.” He said he liked the city’s present general policy of maintaining reserves at a high level, and not spending money out of that account.
    Phyllis Hackett said she believes the way the ordinance is written will create confusion in the future.
    “I’m not going to support that type of ordinance that creates confusion down the road,” she said.
    Mim McConnell spoke in favor of the ordinance, and said it made good financial sense to start putting money away, in a similar manner to a personal investment account.
    “To me this is kind of like having $50 every month going into your investment account,” she said. “You always know that money is there if there’s an emergency. If we don’t discipline ourselves to put money aside for infrastructure we’re never going to do it.”
    Bill Paden agreed, and said the Assembly has to start setting aside money in a disciplined manner, or it would never happen on an annual basis.
    “There’s always some project that seems a little more important,” he said.
    The ordinance passed with McConnell, Paden, Esquiro and Reif voting in favor. The item will advance to a third reading and public hearing.
Affordable Housing
    On a 6-0 vote the Assembly approved advertising a request for proposals for an affordable housing project on the old city shops property.
    The proposals will be reviewed on a number of criteria. The most heavily weighted will be the quality and cost-effectiveness of the proposal, the ability of the proposal to provide affordable housing, and the qualifications and experience of the applicant.
    Hackett said she has heard from someone who owns property in town who is concerned that the project will drive down the rental prices, and affect landlords.
    “He has quite a concern about it,” she said.
    Christianson said this proposal will give the Assembly some flexibility in awarding the contract. McConnell added that she would like to see some “mixed use” of the site.
Loans to Businesses
    The Assembly consolidated two loan balances for Baranof Island Brewing Company into one, for a $345,262 loan for 20 years at 3.5 percent.
    The Assembly also approved a $118,300 short-term loan to Alaska Pure Sea Salt Company out of the revolving loan funds.
Other Items
    The Assembly also:
    – approved a resolution for an application to the Alaska bond bank for $4.2 million in harbor revenue bonds for the replacement of ANB Harbor. The total cost of the project is $8.2 million, with the city and state splitting the cost of the project.
    – approved rezoning four lots in the Indian Village from R-1 to Waterfront District, to allow for the construction of new buildings by Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
    – heard an update from Sitka Tribe of Alaska, including a resolution stating STA’s opposition to the Sheldon Jackson College Trustees claim to land at Redoubt Bay.
    – appointed Jan Keck Love to the Sitka Library Commission.
    – approved waivers of Centennial Hall fees to ANB and ANS for the grand camp meeting, and to Sitka Whalefest.

You have no rights to post comments

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


Login Form



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-5-20)

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 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 56

Total statewide – 3,449

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (14 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 137.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




August 2000

Dan and Betty Keck were married 50 years ago and friends are invited to help celebrate. ... They were married at the Church of Christ in Pateros, Wash., and in 1960 loaded up their station wagon, drove to Seattle, flew to Annette Island and on to Sitka. ... They owned The Cellar from 1976 to 1995. Dan was on the Assembly and served as mayor. ...

August 1970

Sitka Purse Seiners Association has endorsed Larry Carr for governor, according to Al Perkins, chairman of the local organization. He said the organization of about 50 members backs Carr for his position on fishing.