Homer Alaska - Elections

Story last updated at 5:05 PM on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Zak: Small steps build community



At a recent city council meeting a resident of the city of Homer stated he had moved here in the sixties when there were only 1,200 people living in Homer. Today there are over 12,000 residents and at that rate of growth in another forty years Homer could have 40,000 residents. Is this possible? If not, then what are the physical limitations and how does the city address these. Along this line of thinking what is future capacity and capability of the port and harbor and what are the future needs for services? These are the tough questions that need to be asked that will set the strategic direction for the city so the right decisions are made with regards to our future.

The city council within the past few years passed a resolution indicating the "Sea Wall" that was built over ten years ago and which the city had participated in the maintenance of separates them from any involvement in the wall. To make matters worse the low cost insurance policy was cancelled leaving the wall uninsured while at the same time dumping the issue in the laps of the homeowners. Under the circumstances was this the best solution or a reactive solution? I say it was reactive and will result in negative long-term consequences that could have been avoided.

This year the Pratt Museum has started their capital campaign and it is critically important that this project be included in the top ten capital improvement projects in order to receive opportunities for funding at the State level. In the past the city council has maintained an unwritten policy that no non-profits be included in the top ten capital improvements list. Is this good policy? I think not as the key to community and economic development are strategic partnerships.

The city has the ability to collect sales tax and as long as sales taxes are collected without being applied in small amounts back into strategic partnerships there will be limited community and economic growth. Within the past year there have been some positive steps toward development of strategic partnerships. A new economic development director has been hired and a community schools director's position has been continued. The community is beginning to see incredible results from each of these new positions. The city council also recently provided $10,000 to the Homer Hockey Association and for the last two years the city council agreed to hire a lobbyist, has sent representatives to the Alaska Municipal League and attended the Kenai Peninsula economic and development forum. All positive steps but what has actually been accomplished? Perhaps, a person could argue that because we have less debt that we are better off then we were eight years ago. However, if the city has long term capital projects like the possible renovation of the "West Campus" that are not being pursued will there ever be a better time?

I supported a recent resolution to send a small message in order to raise community awareness of our need to find the best ways to deal with the huge garbage issue we have. By mere coincidence, this resolution passed the same week Neil Armstrong died who once said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." I will look forward to finding creative ways in which citizens and the city of Homer can work together on projects that are important to the community knowing that it will take many small steps by many citizens to build our community.

Please vote for Bryan Zak on October 2nd and let's begin together a journey toward building community and economic growth.