Public safety, crosswalk highlight GBOS meeting
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Public safety was the dominant topic at the Girdwood Board of Supervisor’s July meeting. GBOS is engaged with contract negotiations over Whittier policing and is forming a Public Safety Committee. There was also discussion about progress to place a pedestrian activated light at the busy crosswalk where Hightower Road, Egloff Drive and the Alyeska Highway intersect. This would greatly decrease pedestrian accidents considering the amount of foot and motor traffic on the highway, if you or someone that you know of has been hit at this intersection and weren’t the offending party you could click here to learn more about pedestrian accident lawyers and their practice areas.
Girdwood representatives recently met Whittier and Anchorage officials to review the major points of consideration that need to be ironed out and goals that need to be achieved. Whittier will need a rough draft of the contract by August 10 to consider it at the August 16 city council meeting.
Supervisor Sam Daniel said, “Chief Schofield’s goal and mine as public safety supervisor is that we would have a contract in place by September 1st. We’ll see if we can pull it off or not, but we’d like to see some overlap between the state troopers and Whittier. It would be a beneficial thing. There are some IT issues that need to be worked out with 911 call routing. The big questions are of liability and a 30-day escape clause from the contract.”
Daniel said he will represent Girdwood during policing negotiations with Whittier and the Municipality. The negotiated contract will then go before GBOS and the Public Safety Contract Committee for review and approval before moving forward.
One concern addressed was if the Whittier Police Department is patrolling Girdwood, will Alaska State Troopers respond to calls from Girdwood for a major crime? Daniel asked for clarification from Col. Cockrell, Director of the Department of Public Safety.
In a phone conversation with Col. Cockrell, Daniel asked, “When we enter into this contract with the city of Whittier for public safety and law enforcement in Girdwood, in the unfortunate event there is a homicide in Girdwood, can we still rely on the Department of Public Safety and the major crimes unit to come and provide assistance to the city of Whittier and their responding in Girdwood? He said yes, unequivocally yes.”
Cockrell followed up with an email confirming his assertion. AST will cover Girdwood up until the end of September and will respond to major crimes after that date, just like it would in any other community.
The agenda then moved to discuss the formation of a Public Safety Committee, which will be a standing body, much like the Land Use Committee. Four applicants submitted resumes for committee seats. A GBOS executive session will be held for applicant appraisal and a final decision about appointments. Then the appointments will be made public.
“We’ll be taking this up under executive session,” Daniel said. “At least initially, the Public Safety Committee will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors because we need to get boots on the ground by the time we have a contract together, and we’re probably going to ask the Public Safety Committee to help us to write their own by-laws and rules of operation. They would be the primary conduit between the Whittier Police Department and GBOS.”
The current goal is to have a sitting board of three members with a forth as an alternate in case somebody could not make a meeting. No firm decisions have been made over the Public Safety Committee’s final arrangement, Daniel said. Choosing a five-member board was considered, but it is too hard to get enough people to serve. Daniel expects to have the decisions completed before the GBOS meeting August 15.
The pedestrian activated light for the crosswalk where the Alyeska Highway meets with Hightower Road and Egloff Drive was discussed. Kyle Kelley, Municipal Liaison to Girdwood, described the progress at a meeting between Daniel; Supervisor Jerry Fox; Scott Thomas, Traffic Engineer for DOT; and Stephanie Mormilo Municipal Traffic Engineer for Anchorage.
“We had a very productive discussion,” Kelley said. “Both entities agreed upon working a way to get a pedestrian activated light at the intersection, particularly with the guidance and financing of the Girdwood Service Area.”
As a result of the meeting, a tentative Transfer of Responsibility Agreement (TORA) was reached between the state, GBOS and the Municipality to allow the Girdwood Service Area to purchase, design, install and maintain a pedestrian activated crosswalk light at the intersection.
“The big question was liability,” Kelley said, “and there will be liability upon the municipality and the Girdwood Service Area to make sure the light is properly maintained and has been correctly designed and installed. The big thing of it will be maintenance for years to come. The state will still maintain liability of the right of way and the way traffic works with the pedestrian light added into the mix at the intersection.”
A TORA is a standard agreement, and it is currently under review by Municipal attorneys. If the Municipality approves, then the state will review. With state approval, the document will then be signed by the state, GBOS, and Mike Abbott, Municipal Manager. If approved, the next steps are design, cost, and work toward getting light installed. The installation estimate is expected next season because it is too difficult to do with this summer’s road construction.
“This is a huge turn-around from where we were two months ago,” Daniel said. “This is a really big deal, and Scott Thomas was looking to make a win-win out of this. I am really excited about this. If we’re tenacious and respectful when working with folks from the city who come down here, we can get really good results.”
And finally, Raleigh Hill’s Girdwood Picnic Club received a Letter of Non-objection for a beer and wine permit with a unanimous 4-0 vote. The new restaurant on Hightower Road recently obtained approval for the same letter by LUC.