Seward City Hall

On Monday the City Council postponed a vote on recommending borough approval of the sale of 25 acres of city-owned land to the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) for a total of $2,000 to be used in an expand the airport’s 3,300-foot runway. Already the subject of several 2022 postponements, the resolution returned on Monday night for a third public hearing. City Manager Janette Bower urged the Council to postpone the resolution a third time in light of administration’s recent efforts to advocate for a longer runway.

“When we were in Juneau, we met with the DOT commissioner and the deputy commissioner and asked them to conduct more research of the usage of the runway,” Bower said. “When (DOT representative) Ms. Bonham was here before, she stated that the runway would stay at 3,300 feet because of not enough volume, but our case when we were in Juneau would that there would be increased volume, due to the (Chugachmiut) clinic and some other activity in town.” 

“DOT has offered you an embarrassing amount of money,” said Port & Commerce Advisory Board Member Bruce Jaffa during the public hearing. “No matter whose audit you use, you are giving up wetland, and there are people in this community that will place a high value on wetland. If this was in Seattle, this’d be worth a million bucks. For $2,000, reject it. Let them come back. If this is going to be tabled, and they’re going to come back with a better offer, hold out for a decent offer.” 

After the public hearing, City Manager Bower recommended postponement to a date yet to be determined, pending further information from the commissioner’s office. The vote for postponement was unanimous.

“I think the postponement will allow the city and the state to at least acknowledge the value of the property, if nothing else,” Jaffa told the Journal on Tuesday. “It may be that even with a higher offer, it may still be rejected, in which case the state would have to decide whether to proceed through the courts, which they might do. The state of Alaska is an extremely powerful organization that has rules and mandates that are often strict without flexibility.”